You develop a red spotty rash on your arm, you are suddenly feeling over fatigued all the time, or your newborn is refusing to eat. Where do we go to find answers to what is causing these things and how to treat them?
Our first reaction is no longer to call the professional who spent countless years educating themselves on the problem. Most of us decide to Google our symptoms online. Jumping on the internet and making our diagnosis in just a matter of minutes.
Dr. Google and your dog
In the internet age, it’s hard to fight the urge to Google why your dog is having anxiety, why your dog is losing weight, or why your dog has had diarrhea for the last 3 days. Well, we’ve all been there, and we know we’re not supposed to. After all, nobody really enjoys going to a vet.
All medical professionals warn us against conducting Dr. Google. That warning extends to the pet professionals as well. Google can be your friend in some cases, guiding you and helping you make informed decisions. But it can also be your enemy, providing you with incorrect or irrelevant diagnoses about your dog.
Reasons you should not Google your dog’s behavior
Using Google to get online dog training advice to help diagnose why your dog is displaying an unwanted behavior or even worse, taking advice on how to stop that unwanted behavior can be more harmful than it is beneficial. Here is why:
- Need the whole picture
You can’t solve your dog’s problem without looking at the whole picture. You need to understand your dog’s body language, temperament, outside factors, and a good awareness of how dogs learn. It’s a waste of time to search for a solution to a problem that isn’t even the right problem.
- Can be costly
After using Dr. Google to find out why your dog won’t eat out of its dog bowl, you take the advice given and you purchase a new elevated dog bowl for $50, plus a new boutique brand of dog food and several “meal toppers” for another $100, yet your dog is still not eating. Finally, after consulting a specialist, you realize that you didn’t need any of that. Your dog simply likes eating the food when it was scattered all over the ground because it was a game to him. And finding that out cost less than what you spent on everything else.
- Problem may get worse
Even most professional trainers will agree that rewarding a dog on time has positive outcomes. While using Google, you may be rewarding the problem behavior and reinforcing it rather than reinforcing the desired behavior you want.
- Anyone can publish content online
Nobody can ensure that the quality and credibility of the content available online is good. Google can provide you information from credible sources, it can also give you information on some sketchy websites that have bogus information.
People give poor advice all the time. Maybe what worked for them may not work for you. Your situation has its own criteria that may make what they did dangerous.
Perfect Example of How Online Dog Training Advice Can Go Bad
Google how to trim a dog’s nails when he is nervous, and you may come across the perfect example of why not to seek dog training advice online.
Going viral around social media is the suggestion that if your dog is nervous and hates getting his nails trimmed, you should put peanut butter on your forehead and let the dog lick it as you are trimming his nails.
Do you see why this is a stupid, stupid stupid suggestion? It is recommending that you put your face in front of the mouth of a nervous dog. That is a recipe for disaster. You are greatly increasing the chance that you will be bitten in the face.
It hits the marks on all the reasons why you should not listen to Google.
- Do you have the whole picture? Unless you are a professional trainer, you most likely do not know the whole picture. Why is the dog nervous? Is it the clippers or is it because you are touching his feet? Is it the sound? How nervous is the dog? Will he snap? Bite?
- What are the consequences? What if the dog then begins to associate your face or peanut butter with getting his nails trimmed? Will he see peanut butter come out and run?
- Guarantee it was not any professional who made this recommendation!
- IT IS DANGEROUS!!!
- AND THE COST OF YOUR MEDICAL BILL WHEN YOU GET BIT WILL BE VERY EXPENSIVE!
How does a professional dog trainer differ from Google?
Online dog training advice on Google is in no way a substitute for an expert dog trainer or training class.
In today’s world, everything can be found on Google. It’s convenient and instantly accessible wherever you need it.
A dog trainer needs to look at many factors when diagnosing a dog after a thorough exam. He takes into consideration your dog’s outside influences such as environment and pet nutrition, medical history, and personality.
If the variables are too many for the trainer to decide in a training program without examining your dog, imagine risking that with Google!
A good dog training program means that you have a trainer who will work with you and help you improve your dog’s behavior and the communication between you and your dog. A dog trainer will make the experience fun, laugh along with you and elevate the entire training experience!
- Choosing the right training tools
It’s easy to get confused with the articles and blogs of dog training equipment, hardware, and gear. A professional dog trainer can help you select the right tool for your specific training requirements. Each dog equipment has a specific use. Your trainer can guide you through the process of identifying which one and why and how do you use it.
- Education + Experience = Expertise
Professional dog trainers are certified and possess a minimum knowledge base and skill level.
- Take your training to the next level!
Your dog is part of your family and great training helps the dog become a well-rounded companion. When you rely solely on dog training on the internet, the entire aspect of training your dog to the highest levels is not possible.
At the end of the day, your dog’s trainer is their most valuable and trusted resource. No one knows your dog’s unique training needs better and will be able to tailor a training plan specifically made for their individual needs.
You can never replace professional advice with a Google search. By doing so, you are inadvertently putting yourself both at the risk of anxiety and incorrect diagnosis. There is a lot of junk present on the internet that might be nowhere even near to the actual solution to your dog’s problem.
- Look at the source: If the website is not from a professional, you should not take this advice. You can get advice from real Veternarians in the Facebook group Pet Vet Corner.
- Know when to seek professional help: Seek professional help when it involves fear, aggression, or your dog’s health. A trained professional can diagnose your dog’s problem better than Google. It is just not worth the risk.
- Submit a Video: If you want to get valuable feedback try submitting a video of your dog’s behavior to an online dog training forum. A video will allow a trainer to get a better picture of the whole story and steer you in the right direction. A great place to do this is in a facebook group for dogs and/or trainers.
Searching the web can be a valuable resource for dog owners, but never a replacement for professional dog trainers.
Sure, we are living in a technological era. A lot of us are far more comfortable telling Google about our dog’s behavior than a real professional. But Google isn’t going to look at your dog or care enough to look at your environmental factors when you’re having a hard time finding answers. You cannot replace professional help with a Google search.
The lesson here is that Dr. Google is not a licensed vet nor a dog trainer. When in doubt, give your vet a call to discuss your dog’s symptoms, your options, and the urgency of the problem.
Educate yourself regarding dog training, but do so by consulting experts, including your vet, dog behaviorist, professional dog trainers. You should talk to someone who knows how to tie all the pieces together. A trained professional can diagnose your dog’s problems better than the internet or yourself.