Copper and Chaos

Agility adventures

‘Anything you can do..

..I can do better!’


'Oh so you're an expert in Vizsla training? Tell me more.'

‘Oh so you’re an expert in Vizsla training? Tell me more.’ Penn says skeptically

What is this new (or maybe not so new?) trend of people suddenly being experts on everything under the sun? I have seen some people just rotate through completely unrelated skills and each time they are ‘masters’, ‘trainers’, ‘professionals’, etc. and are claiming to be very knowledgable. These are people who seem to just read a book (or worse- blog) on a certain subject and then charge people for their advice. And people pay them. Why? A little knowledge is truly a dangerous thing.

Ever talk to someone about a topic you know a significant amount on& instantly know that that person was talking out of their ass? Of course you have. We all have! Those are the kind of people who get away with pretending to know more than they do on a topic to the majority people they interact with. They are also the people who will argue with you because they have formed very strong beliefs in their 30 minutes of research. You can tell people who know less than them would be inclined to believe them because they are so confident in their opinions.. even if they are not based, or only loosely based, in reality.

Sometimes, this kind of false knowledge is harmless. If someone pretends to know a lot about the NBA, the fact that they actually don’t has no harmful effects on anyone really. The coaches and players aren’t going to be taking their suggestions to heart. It is when they are giving advice on situations where they have real influence that it starts to become a little less harmless. People can genuinely believe with all their heart that they are giving you the best advice in the world& it can be truly terrible advice. Just because someone has strong opinions on something doesn’t mean they are correct. Feeling is not the same as knowing. Just because multiple people agree with the advice doesn’t make it good advice. Remember- people join cults and partake in mass suicides. As a group, we may not be the best decision makers.

I have seen some horrible advice being offered on forums, Facebook pages and blogs. It makes me cringe. One woman had a question about a dog who growled when it was given high value treats (resource guarding). She was out of her league for sure but couldn’t afford to go to the vet or a trainer for help so she was reaching out to social media for suggestions. This is a great idea in theory. The internet is filled with lots of people who could help her. The downside to that is the right advice is a lot of work. She needed to start working on teaching the dog that giving up his current possession would result in an even better one from the owner and she had to start to controlling situations to prevent it as much as possible.

The bad advice was to not bother rewarding the dog for growling but instead show it who was boss. Simply take the treat from the dog and grab his mouth/ nose if he lifted a lip or growled. This was easier to understand and implement than the first suggestions. There were lots of people agreeing with it saying they simply wouldn’t let their dogs run the household and she needed to get firmer with the dog and he would stop. So, the owner took this route. The end result? He ended up grabbing her hand pretty good a few times, she got overwhelmed and the dog was placed in rescue. It was really sad because she was heartbroken as she truly had wanted to work through it but she set herself& the dog up for failure by going with the wrong advice.

Searching for answers in a sea of advice ..or looking for birds.

Searching for answers in a sea of advice ..or looking for birds.

On that note; how can you tell if someone is offering up bad advice? Here’s a handy checklist for the future.

  1. If the question you’re asking requires a degree to be employable in that field, you might want to ask a person with that degree. Don’t ask the internet to figure out why your dog limps on Sundays after rain storms. You aren’t going to get a diagnoses. You’re going to get best guesses. They can do more harm than good.
  2. If the question you’re asking is behavioural, you may want to find a behaviourist. The internet cannot figure out why your dog is dog reactive with only Dalmatians and kids with earrings. Again, you may end up doing more harm than good.
  3. If the person giving the advice has a dog that they are unable to control, re-evaluate how trustworthy their suggestions may be. If they can’t stop their dog from barking at the door, they probably can’t help you stop yours from snapping at the neighbours.
  4. If the person giving the advice is constantly posts conflicting information, be careful their suggestion to you won’t be different tomorrow than it is today. If today they say to spray the dog with water when it jumps but tomorrow they say to knock him down they probably aren’t confident in either.
  5. Be careful. If you ask for advice, make sure research it all. Decide what you think will work best for your situation from there. If you don’t do any further looking into suggestions before wholeheartedly accepting them as gospel, you’re as guilty as those giving the bad advice.

Does anyone else feel like the world is slowly becoming filled with experts?! I see it a lot in the dog and photography world ..mostly because that is where I spend my free time. I don’t claim to even remotely be an expert in either of these categories but I know enough to know when someone is wrong. What job/ hobbies do you have? Is this mindset becoming more prevalent in your activities? How does it make you feel? Let me know in the comments. I am genuinely interested in knowing how others’ feel about this ‘trend’!



2 comments on “‘Anything you can do..

  1. edanskinElizabeth
    March 12, 2015

    Great article, thanks so much for this. You have no idea in my profession how often I see and hear these situations , results and often tragic end that comes from “expert” advice from questionable sources.

  2. Em
    March 12, 2015

    Ohhhh yep. So many experts. And there can be so much guilt attached to your decisions too if they don’t match up with those experts – but you might have done your own research & gotten advice from knowledgable people you trust. Take the example of my beginning to jump loki on low bars before he was a year old. Many reputable Euro trainers do this & some recommend you jump them earlier so they get used to using their bodies in this way. But there’s a large camp of people here in Aus for whom that is the ultimate form of animal torture. So much conflicting advice. Blah.

Thoughts here!

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This entry was posted on March 11, 2015 by in Random.
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