What the actual heck is a crossover trainer? A crossover trainer is a dog training that started training in “pack” based, aversive or balanced dog training and adopted a science-based, positive reinforcement style of training.
Just like everyone else, I watched The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Milan when it aired in 2004, making me 14 years old at the time. My family and I tried some of his techniques with our dogs and saw success. Our dogs were already well behaved with no behavioral issues, we just affirmed ourselves as "pack leaders". It made sense to me then.
When I was 17 I decided I wanted to rehabilitate dogs and teach people how to be "pack leaders" the way I learned how to do it from TV. I looked down on dog trainers because I had only heard negative things about carrying around treats to get the dogs to be obedient. Trainers also spoke to dogs with high pitched voices and treated dogs like human babies. Which is NOT something a pack leader would do.
I kept my pack leader status on the down low for a long time. About 10 years after seeing the first DW episode I read my first positive reinforcement book. For 10 years I believed in corrections and pack theory. The first book I read was “Coaching People to Train Their Dogs” by Terry Ryan. I rolled my eyes several times while reading it and, to be honest, I don’t know why I kept reading. Just like other pack theorists, I thought I knew everything there was to know about dog training, so why was I reading a book written by a treat-peddler? When I was done with that book, I read another one, and another. I don’t remember when it happened, but one day I admitted to myself that I had been wrong all along and that I needed to change everything. My outlook on behavior, my approach and my methods. It wasn’t easy to admit I had been wrong and I was in denial about it for a couple months. As I kept reading book after book there was no way I could deny the science behind it.
Before I knew it I became one of those treat-peddling sissy poos who always has treats, talks in a high pitched voice and has their dogs on a harness. 14 year old me would be rolling her eyes if she had the chance to meet her future self!
Keep an open mind,