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Jean Donaldson

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Jean Donaldson
  • I'm not sure what to think of Jean Donaldson. I respect her as a trainer and an author. I'm not sure I respect her as a person however. It's mainly due to her badmouthing of Cesar Millan. In my book by Terry Ryan "Coaching People To Train Their Dogs" she recommends that as a dog trainer you NEVER bad mouth other dog trainers. Or do you think that what Donaldson is doing is different than "bad mouthing"? I'm not saying that she shut her mouth, but I wonder if there was a more appropriate way to state her opinions on Millan. I really don't think she makes herself look good.  And this is coming from a practicing dog trainer who uses +R. 
  • I am interested in this topic but I don't think I have the context to understand it.  Do you have a link to some of Donaldson's comments? 
  • After reading Donaldson's book Culture Clash and quitting halfway through because I was tired of her abrasive manner of expression, this didn't suprise me in the least. Just from her writing style, I would venture to say that she's probably aggressively opinionated and can't help herself when she sees something she doesn't like. She doesn't like the way Millan works, so she rants about him recklessly, at that moment not caring a jot about the consequences.

    "Do what I say, not what I do."
  • I think Donaldson's personality is something you either love or hate. I actually had no problem with the way Culture Clash was written--I loved her shoot from the hip, tell it like it is, take no prisoners approach. I'm kind of the same way. If I think something is stupid I will say, "I think that is stupid." Why beat around the bush about it? With people who do a lot of equivocating or talking around in circles or feel-good warm fuzzy talk, I always have to wonder, do they really think this way or are they just trying to make me feel better? I like people who know what they believe and are unafraid to really go to bat for that belief, even if that means pissing people off. I think that's my Objectivist upbringing showing.

    I do sort of wonder sometimes, not necessiarily with regard to anyone's comments here, but just the general opinion of her in the dog world, would it be different if she were a man? Women are trained to equivacate and end all our sentences with this self-deprecating "but that's just my opinion, I could be wrong" stuff. When a woman doesn't do that, she's generally given a much harder time than a man saying the same things would. My dislike of that kind of equivocation made it really hard for me to have female friends for a while growing up, I just couldn't stand how they wouldn't just say what they felt and stand up for it.
  • I'm not sure what to think of Jean Donaldson. I respect her as a trainer and an author. I'm not sure I respect her as a person however. It's mainly due to her badmouthing of Cesar Millan. In my book by Terry Ryan "Coaching People To Train Their Dogs" she recommends that as a dog trainer you NEVER bad mouth other dog trainers. Or do you think that what Donaldson is doing is different than "bad mouthing"? I'm not saying that she shut her mouth, but I wonder if there was a more appropriate way to state her opinions on Millan. I really don't think she makes herself look good. And this is coming from a practicing dog trainer who uses +R.


    I have not read her books yet (have one at home for my vacation next week) and I don't know her exact comments about CM...but I know that a lot of trainers are critical of him b/c they don't really think he's actually a qualified trainer.  So, if she said not to badmouth other trainers, but is critical of CM, it may be because in her opinion, we shouldn't even be calling him a trainer.
  • You're not alone in thinking her abrasive.  I've seen a few reviews that stated the same thing: down with the message but not the delivery.

    There's a fine line between being blunt and being a c***, and she goes a little too far over it for my tastes.  There's other trainers out there that can convey the same message without coming off like they have a chip the size of SF on their shoulder.
  • I loved Culture Clash and appreciated her perspective and sage advice to "dog thinking".  (Which actually in her philosophy would be an oxymoron [;)]).  I tried to read "Mine!" and didn't finish it, because the techniques she described were so much in detail I didn't think I could do what she was asking!  And I found that book much more difficult to understand/absorb than Culture Clash.
     
    I also don't know what her comments are about CM, but my guess is that she probably doesn't lend a lot of creedence to some of his anthropomorphizing of dogs.  In her view, dogs are "tabula rasa" and are a "black box".  They don't think, process, rationalize, reason, like humans do and we so often think that they do and treat them that way.  She operates by classical/operant conditioning methods and does not believe that dogs have any kind of innate desire to "please" or "love"...they behave a certain way because that behavior elicits a reward, and that is all.  So I can see why she would have a different perspective than CM.
     
    Now granted, if she is literally trashing him, well that's just bad behavior.  I however don't think it detracts any from her methods - they are proven and I can personally say that they really helped me.  Oh and yes, I still anthropomorphize my dog and I *do* believe he loves me.  So neener! [8D]
  • I find her a bit abrasive too, but I'm willing to deal because I respect what she has to say.

    I also think there are a lot of dog trainers out there who are great with animals and not so great with people. In those folks, it seems to be a general lack of human social skills.

    If the goal is to get other people to understand the philosophies behind your training, then the information has to be put out there in an approachable manner -- otherwise it turns people off to what you are saying before the message is even out there, and that's not effective! R+ isn't just for dogs, it's for people too!

    Re: Cesar. I think a lot of the people who have devoted their lives and time to studying the science of animal behavior and training get frustrated, because CM comes along, has a show on TV and everyone thinks that makes him qualified. From what I know, he hasn't done any formal studying of how the brain works, why learning happens best in certain ways, etc. and all of that is critical to understanding what you are doing when you are training.
  • Re: Cesar. I think a lot of the people who have devoted their lives and time to studying the science of animal behavior and training get frustrated, because CM comes along, has a show on TV and everyone thinks that makes him qualified. From what I know, he hasn't done any formal studying of how the brain works, why learning happens best in certain ways, etc. and all of that is critical to understanding what you are doing when you are training.

     
    I've read CM's book and I have to say, I loved it.   Cesar makes excellent points about how many of us (me included) treat our dogs as "little people with fur" and meet OUR needs more than we meet the dogs needs and how we can easily disguise meeting our needs AS meeting the dogs needs -- its a good point and something I'm still guilty of.   I do NOT however like the show "The Dog Whisperer" as a learning tool (love it as entertainment and for some very basic concepts).   Cesar may not have had formal training, but I wouldn't say he hasn't studied dogs and he's done tons and tons of reading.  My only issue with him is that his show is geered toward dogs that have pretty severe issues (which is where he personally does most of his work) and too many people try to adapt his approach to "day to day" issues.   It can cause problems.    There's always the "don't try this at home" warning on the screen, but too many people just don't realize how true that little statement is.
     
    Haven't read Jean's books so I can't comment there.
  • ORIGINAL: g33
    I loved Culture Clash and appreciated her perspective and sage advice to "dog thinking". (Which actually in her philosophy would be an oxymoron [;)]).


    Isn't she the author who coined the term "lemon brain" in reference to dogs? [sm=rolleyes.gif]
  • ORIGINAL: Ixas_girl

    ORIGINAL: g33
    I loved Culture Clash and appreciated her perspective and sage advice to "dog thinking". (Which actually in her philosophy would be an oxymoron [;)]).


    Isn't she the author who coined the term "lemon brain" in reference to dogs? [sm=rolleyes.gif]


    Well, yes - because that is what dogs have.  A brain about the size and shape of a lemon, without a lot of definition in the cortex.  It's a descriptive term, not a judgmental term.  Meaning, she wasn't labeling dogs as being "lemons".  [;)]
     
  • I guess I pretty much overlook her way of expressing herself because the content of her theory has proven itself to me in so many ways.  We, as humans, in most cases, do not make as much an effort to understand "canine" as dogs do to understand us and our languages, body and verbal.  The fact that she has drawn attention to the "language barrier" that exists between canines and humans is commendable.  Her writing style aside, the message is so important that I still recommend the book to everyone. 
    I don't think it's nice to badmouth other trainers and behaviorists on a personal level either, but I do think it is fair, and necessary, to express oneself with regard to a method that seems harmful to dogs.  Do I think Cesar Millan has good intentions?  Sure, I do.  Do I think he is right about the techniques he uses?  In many cases, no.  That does not mean that I refused to read his book, nor does it mean that there aren't things he does that I agree with.  So, I wish that anyone who has not yet read "The Culture Clash" do so.  Or, if you just can't bring yourself to, read "The Rosetta Bone" instead (Cheryl Smith).
  • I may have phrased this poorly above, so allow me to rephrase. I think that the real industry leaders don't consider him a legitimate trainer, so occasionally the claws come out.

    Animal training is now a profession, a field of study and a recognized science. The leaders in the field have spent years studying, researching and contributing to a field that did not exist 30+ years ago. Thanks to these pioneers animal training has come a very long way. We now have dolphins in the Navy that are use to find minefields! WOW! Cesar has not made any contributions on that level or even close.

    So to the handful of industry leaders out there, I think CM is a frustrating thorn in their side. He is not as qualified as Jean Donaldson, Karen Pryor, or Ian Dunbar or their colleagues, and yet he is a national figure and commonly referenced as an "expert".

    He has tons of experience, and has done tons of readings, but so have a lot of other trainers. Many on this board probably have the same level of education and experience, but would admit they know nothing compared to the Donaldsons, Pryors or Dunbars of the world.
  • ORIGINAL: nocturnal76

    And this is coming from a practicing dog trainer who uses +R. 


    I have not read "Culture Clash," but I wanted to comment on this statement.  I hear this made often, I and think it is a bit silly.  R+ is a method of training dogs, not a moral code.  Just because people use positive meothods to train dogs, does not mean, IMHO, that they should be expected to travel through life skipping and humming and giving every human being they see hugs.  Just as I don't expect a "dominance theory" trainer to walk around trying to dominate every human being he sees, I don't expect that a R+ trainer is going to have nothing but happy things to say to other humans.  I think this is simply an argument used to discredit those who practice R+, and it is a weak one at that.


    ETA:  That being said, I do think it is unprofessional to badmouth others in your field.  However, that would not prevent me from reading her work.
  • ORIGINAL: Ixas_girl

    ORIGINAL: g33
    I loved Culture Clash and appreciated her perspective and sage advice to "dog thinking". (Which actually in her philosophy would be an oxymoron [;)]).


    Isn't she the author who coined the term "lemon brain" in reference to dogs? [sm=rolleyes.gif]



    I've heard many trainers refer to the fact that horses have "tiny brains" and they are actually more intelligent than dogs and pigs.  It does not mean that they are big dumb animals, it just means that we need to remember that sometimes they are not going to react to a situation the way we logically think they should.  Believe me, that point is driven home when you are nearly run over by a 17 hh horse who has become suddenly disturbed by some invisible "alien" crouched in the corner of the barn.......