Ready for more sweeping generalizations? Yes? Good.
Ever heard the expression “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing”? Well for the Misguided Guidance Counselor (MGC), that statement couldn’t be any more true.
The older, more annoying, and far-less-involved-with-their-own-dog version of our Know-It-All Novice, the MGC is a voracious acquirer of knowledge. They have read all the books. They have watched all the movies. They have asked all (and we mean ALL) the questions. In theory, the MGC knows what to do, and they certainly aren’t afraid to tell others what to do. But when it comes down to doing anything with their own dogs? Well, theory and practice are two different things entirely. Don’t expect to see the MGC actually doing anything with their present dogs.
Or maybe the next day.
The big difference between the MGC and the KIAN is purely in application. While the KIAN is active, involved and downright annoying in their dedication to being the best at their chosen venue, the MGC merely assumes their appropriated knowledge is a sufficient replacement for actual effort and/or experience. If the KIAN is ‘the ant’, the MGC is ‘the grasshopper’s asshole neighbor the Cuckoo bird. She shoves in, stuffs her egg in your nest, and then her asshole crotch fruit steals all the food and attention. Not only did she not work at all, she’s going to steal all the shit you worked hard to acquire, take the credit and proceed to go on and fuck over other nests.
He’s telling you why you’re doing it wrong…
A secondary characteristic is the MGC’s focus on what’s next. Why deal with the dogs you have now, when you can plan for a future that will never occur? Any issues that may mar the MGC’s perfect world are either ignored or never spoken about. They exist in the ‘Fight Club’ of dog issues. First rule of being an MGC? You don’t talk about MGC. Second rule of being an MGC? You broke the first rule.
Doling out iffy advice on internet forums while ignoring perfectly good advice given to them or accosting random strangers on the street to give advice while ignoring their own dog’s bad behavior. Basically, they can be found anywhere other than working with their own dog.
Shirts from important competitions they weren’t actually entered. Training vests with no dogs in sight. Athletic attire in inappropriate situations.
MGCs tend to own breeds for fairly experienced people, but they are always more than the MGC can actually handle. The dog is often commonly seen out and about during puppyhood and then never seen again once adolescence starts. Even their stereotypically easy breeds become Kujo-like per their description. Just assume that any dogs the MGC owns could be fixed with a weekend of good training or a new owner.
Don’t be fooled. He is vicious!
Skill Level: Trick question. While the MGC has certainly read enough to be fairly knowledgeable, it is hard to judge their actual skill as they rarely follow through with any advice they are given or training tips they read. It will just take one little incorrect fact pinging your radar. After that you can hear your ‘bullshit’ detector going haywire as their lies and faux-grasp of concepts build.
May thy posterior be stung by the traitorous wasp
“If I were you..”, “Well my reading tells me…”, “Have I tried this with my dog? No, but I plan on it…someday”
Last year after Mr. T was attacked by another dog he became reactive toward dogs of the same breed. As such, I actively sought out advice from experts and once we were cleared by his vet for physical activity (i.e. more than just walking out to potty and going back in), I began to work on his reactivity. Anyone who has ever dealt with a reactive dog knows this can be a process, and that at times your dog will have a particularly bad day. Given that I live in the middle of a large city, lots of people were witness to our training sessions. During this time, one particular neighbor staked her claim as being a major MGC. This woman has one of the most ill-behaved dogs I have ever met and openly admits that she has been too lazy/busy to take steps to improve it. However, she was more than willing to dole out unsolicited advice and chastise me for “letting” Mr. T react. Apparently because she can quote pretty much every dog training book ever written she is an authority on training despite never having actually put any of it into practice. Whenever I saw her she told me what I should be doing differently and seemed unimpressed with our progress. Each time she lectured me, all I wanted to do was tell her that maybe instead of focusing on my dog, she should put an ounce of effort into hers.
All up in there.
One of these is the bane of my existence. They literally make my life a little bit worse every time they breathe. This particular MGC has several dogs of fairly easy pet breeds (Poodles, Shelties etc) none of which have any overwhelmingly extreme personality traits. Similar training groups bring us into regular contact and every time is worse than the last. Incessant bad behavior by her pets is ignored in favor of the mythic “next dog”. This next dog will be everything her current pets are not. This fantasy canine will be stronger, faster, a better listener and will bring her flowers on her birthday dog damn it! Seriously though, no matter what you suggest (per her request) the advice is never applied. She’s more than happy to hand it out inappropriately to others though. She then usually has the gall to correct the original advice giver despite having no actual experience, anecdotal or otherwise.
Yes, you really do.
Because I’ve been in dogs since I was very young, and since I’m still younger than a good majority of sport dog people… I get a lot of MGCs. Don’t get me wrong, I welcome advice from all experienced dog people. I’ll gladly sit and listen to old hands for hours because if you think you know everything about dog training, you are the worst sort of dog trainer. Still, nothing annoys me worse than advice from someone who is parroting something they’ve read and not applying any practical knowledge. The first one that comes to mind is a “trainer” that came in for dog food in a local feed store. She had shepherds, of the German variety, and truly believed she was god’s gift to dog training. Thing is, her dogs were godawful. She did “protection training” which as far as I can tell mostly consisted of antagonizing an already nervy dog until it bit the helper. She even had the nerve of bragging about one of her dogs almost biting someone that “walked up too quickly”. Obviously, the woman had no idea, yet she was always ready to hand out advice to anyone that would listen. Covering every topic from basic puppy obedience (and she made Koehler look like Karen Pryor) to agility (she ran a fun class with tunnels made out of black pipe) to how to teach your Great Dane how to bite someone and she was more than happy to hand this advice out to anyone dumb enough to listen. She now works as a trainer at a big box store, which has expanded her listening circle exponentially.
Everything. All of it.