Dog Training is Broken

by Denise Mazzola, CPDT – KA

“Our dogs are not broken. Dog Training is a broken and an outdated concept for helping modern dogs & their families.” – Kim Brophey, author of Meet Your Dog.

I couldn’t agree with her more.

There are more dog behavior problems in the 21st century than ever before. And there are even more dog trainers, and behaviorists trying to help them. More dogs are on Prozac, acting out in aggression, and causing their own frustration. Yet, the problems that dog owners are experiencing with their dogs are NOT training issues.

Our current methods of training which focus on obedience such as: sit, lay down, heeling and punitive methods, such as the shock collar will not solve these types of issues:

  • Dogs who jump on family and friends.
  • Dogs who are territorial.
  • Dogs who are chasing and nipping kids, joggers, bikes, anything that moves. 
  • Dogs who are aggressive when he has a bone, toy, or a stolen item.

What is the solution?

Our pet dog culture has been led to believe that all dogs are the same, they just look different. We buy, adopt and rescue dogs and puppies based on appearance and whether they shed with little consideration for their genetics. What they were bred to do. 

Our modern-day dogs come from hundreds and thousands of years of breeding for a specific purpose! Jobs such as herding or guarding livestock. Dogs bred to cooperatively hunt with us or kill vermin in our barns and homes and so many other purposes.

The problem is that most of us are not using our dogs for any particular purpose besides unconditional love and being a pet. Some dogs are ok with that, but many dogs are not, and it can cause anxiety, extreme frustration, and aggression, behavior problems that are not fixable with obedience or punishment.

Take Gio, my 7-year-old Yellow Lab for example. He is very unlab-like, which is what I love about him. He does not swim, nor does he like to get his feet wet, and he doesn’t retrieve anything! He’s happy to while-away the hours sleeping under my desk, or he’ll happily hike 12-miles in the Whites. On the Labrador spectrum, he’s very low in traditional Labrador characteristics. It’s easy to fulfill his genetic cup.

On the other hand, let’s look at Livestock Guardian Breeds (LSG) such as Mastiffs, Great Dane, Bernese, St Bernard, Great Pyrenees, as well as mixes of these. Their DNA from centuries of breeding has their brain hard-wired to protect livestock, live in a pasture, be suspicious of new people and bark their fool head off as an alarm. Their inherent independence makes them harder to “train.” They simply do not see the point!

It’s not shocking to me when owners call complaining that their LSG is “attacking” visitors, can’t get them to come inside, and is destroying their house. The frustration and anxiety our dogs experience when denied what their DNA is screaming for them to do, is REAL.

Before you enroll in an obedience class or doggie day care or buy a shock collar, or label your dog as stubborn, stupid, or alpha and before Prozac, do a DNA test and confirm his breed mix. Then research breed or breed mixes and find ways to fulfill his genetic cup. 

Not sure how to fill your dog’s genetic cup? 

Start with an hour walk or a walk through the trails, woods, fields.

Get your dog in nature because I can assure you they were not bred to sit in your house all day.

Certified Professional Dog Trainer Denise Mazzola is the owner of Denise Mazzola’s Everything Dog. She has been working with people and training dogs for over 30 years. Everything Dog provides services to clients throughout the Monadnock Region of NH as well as online services to clients throughout the United States.

Denise has been published in the trade journal, Chronicle of the Dog, and writes a monthly column for Everything Dog’s Monthly Newsletter. She also contributes to AtHome magazine, and APEX award winner. She has been an expert witness for dog attacks. She also hosts a monthly “Ask the Trainer” radio show on WKBK. Denise lives in Keene with her life and business partner, Amy Willey CPDT-KA, and they share their home with two dogs. She has three adult daughters and two grandsons!

For more information, visit On YouTube at Everything Dog.

Denise Mazzola

Denise Mazzola


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