Dog Connect SF vs SF Dog Connect: Force Free Training vs Balanced/Force Training

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Maureen and I are incredibly upset. We found out that Beverly Ulbrich, owner of The Pooch Coach in San Francisco, is using the same name as our group: Dog Connect. It goes beyond words to explain how hurt and upset we are. We started in October 2012 as a small but consistent group of dog owners, lovers and trainers. On March 1, 2013, we received the Beast of the Bay Award for our work. We were so proud of what we had accomplished in such a short time.

Our registration details:

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Ms. Ulbrich’s details:

sfdogconnectregistration

Not in a million years did Maureen or I even think of protecting our entity. We have a blog and an online group. We gave it a name so people knew where to find us. We volunteer our time to share dog related subjects. Our goal was to open people up to force free training. It was our way of giving back to the community. There is no income as compensation. We volunteer our time and share our knowledge.

Having two Dog Connects in the SF Bay Area is very confusing. As a former Marketing Manager for Multi-national companies in Europe and Asia I can tell you all about branding. It is the 101 of beginners marketing. Branding is important because you want to distinguish yourself from another business, service or product. When we did our search for our group name we didn’t only “google” the name. We did extensive research. We didn’t trademark the name because we are not generating money out of this free service and we simply didn’t feel the need because Dog Connect SF grew rapidly and gained popularity especially when our name was published on March 1, 2013 and the amount of group members doubled during that time. The Bay of the Beast Award was the reward for all the work we had done and with that we earned a good reputation within the SF Bay Area dog community.

On March 1, 2013 our name was published in Bay Woof (http://www.BayWoof.com and in their printed version that can be found all over the SF Bay Area) as the winner of the Beast of the Bay Award. On March 5, 2013 Beverly Ulbrich registered the domain names sf-dog-connect.com and sfdogconnect.com with GoDaddy.com. On May 10, 2013 she registered her business in San Francisco. On July 12, 2013 she launched SF Dog Connect on Meetup.com. That is when we found out about the use of our name for her business.

When we became aware of the situation we contacted Beverly Ulbrich and asked her to change the name. She refused. Ms. Beverly Ulbrich already owns a dog training business called The Pooch Coach: http://www.poochcoach.com. (Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-pooch-coach-san-francisco)

A few days after contacting her we received the following communication from her lawyer, Roy Gordet. LettertoMosbach07242013_0000. A phone call and another letter followed:

“Dear Ms. Mosbach:

This is further to my letter dated July 24, 2013 concerning Beverly Ulbrich and SF Dog Connect and to the voice message that I left for you on Friday, July 26 requesting that you call me to discuss the situation.

The false and defamatory statements must be removed because they are damaging to my client’s reputation and business and we need your immediate confirmation in writing that they have been removed. Your refusal to respond does not help solve this serious problem.

According to the posts that were publicly available on Facebook and your email correspondence to my client, you have access to legal counsel. In an effort to bring this matter to a satisfactory conclusion without the need for my client filing a lawsuit, if you do not wish to discuss this with me, I encourage you to have your attorney contact me so that we can discuss a resolution and the parties can move on, to the extent that is possible. The situation is currently intolerable from my client’s perspective and my client cannot simply walk away from it. Indeed, as is obvious, not only you, but certain others in your group, have made defamatory statements.

Since the sending of my July 24 letter, as I mentioned in my voice message, we have noticed that you have posted a disclaimer at your site. However, by including the reference to “force free” methods preceding your disclaimer of no affiliation with my client, you have maliciously imputed force training to my client, which is not true and is defamatory.  This defamatory reference preceding the disclaimer must be removed immediately.

Although access to your Facebook group is now restricted, rest assured that if a lawsuit is filed, civil pre-trial discovery will require you to turn over all postings and relevant correspondence from before and after my July 24 letter. Our preference continues to be that we reach a resolution without the need for filing suit.

Again, please contact me or have your counsel contact me without further delay if you will refuse to immediately remove all false and defamatory postings about my client. In any case, if before close of business on Friday, August 2nd, I do not have the confirmation in writing concerning the removals that we requested previously and above, we will assume that you would prefer that the matter be litigated in the appropriate court.

Very truly yours,

Roy Gordet”

We allow you to judge for yourself. We are still upset as of a result of the events that led to this situation. We are grateful for the amount of support we have gotten in the SF Bay Area and beyond. We are prepared should we get sued. Facts don’t lie. Threatening to sue may provide some personal satisfaction but is in general a poor public relations move. The whole situation has already backfired for Ms. Ulbrich among many dog professionals in the SF Bay Area. Ms. Ulbrich has the choice of making the right decision that would result in this conflict and negative attention going away. We cannot change the opinion of people who know her. As a public figure you expose yourself to both praise and criticism as a result of your actions. It is part of the deal. It is in her hands to determine what her image will be.

Mosbach’s musings: The word “professional” defines people that have a high standard of professional ethics, behavior and work activities while carrying out one’s profession. These people should also have expert and specialized knowledge in field which one is practicing professionally through means of education and certification. A professional has excellent manual/practical and literary skills in relation to profession. Professional dog experts have knowledge in animal behavior by using scientific based animal learning theories. The only form of punishment that trainers should use is negative punishment. That is only used by positive reinforcement trainers. We use two quadrants of Skinner’s Operant Condition: positive reinforcement (rewarding good behavior) and negative punishment (removing something desirable to achieve the desired behavior): loss of privileges, removing a dog from his play date if poor behavior is shown. All other trainers use fear and pain to achieve the desired behavior. A professional understands business. A professional knows his/her trade. Yet how is it possible that a former Marketing Executive with Sun Microsystems ends up with an existing name? Google analysis show that we were the only Dog Connect in the US and in March our web site hits were the highest. Ms. Ulbrich is also the winner of the Bay of the Beast award of 2009. Coincidence or not? I’m too much of a professional to believe in coincidence. We may not spend thousands in lawyer’s cost to settle our dispute but outing facts and our opinions has yet to be called defamation. Ms. Ulbrich had choices and she continues to use our name. If at any point in time it would have been a mistake and she oversaw it she could have stepped back but she didn’t. Questioning her motivation. Honored to know that she likes our name and tries to thrive on it but it also works the other way around.

The goal of our group was to educate the public about the misconception of training. The unregulated world of dog training where anyone can step up and call themselves a dog trainer. Look at the “About” page. See what education the individuals has. They can boast about being on tv and having connections but what really matters is the educational part. A behaviorist can only call themselves one if they have graduated as such (APDT.org) If there is not college degree they are not one. Self proclaimed behaviorist is misleading and misusing of the term. Remember one saying: “I’ve had teeth all my life but it doesn’t make me a dentist.” The same counts for those who have no education in training and behavior.

Jean Donaldson (http://www.academyfordogtrainers.com) provided us with the idea to start this group. She has been our mentor. A professional animal behaviorist, author and one of the world’s best dog trainers.

Coming to a conclusion of my musings: Flabbergasted. I don’t use adjectives a lot. I leave those to people who are desperately trying to make a point but don’t have the legal means to support it. I’ve worked with the best lawyers but they didn’t need to threaten. Once you start up high to intimidate a person there is no more options. Every attempt to make a situation work is lost. I have a peace officer as a husband and they are trained in such techniques. Lawyers are trained to intimidate in the hope they will get the other party to their knees. That would have worked unless you are dealing with someone that knows the law. In the meantime I have an offer to pursue further legal actions. We have rights to our names even though we didn’t legally trademark it. It causes confusion but until now it has worked in our favor.

Since Dog Connect is our name and we established the name in the SF Bay Area, we will continue to use it. We are supported and endorsed by top notch dog trainers in the professional dog world, rescues and Bay Area dog lovers.  We know in the end we will gain without pain! In order to protect Dog Connect and continue advocating for force free training, we need your help. We will be ramping up our marketing efforts and continue providing quality content. Please share our group with your friends and colleagues and continue helping us make every dog a force free dog.  Expect professional help based on science based training methods!

Dog Connect SF Bay Area promotes the use of force free methods. We are not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by or in any way officially connected with Beverly Ulbrich, The Pooch Coach and SF Dog Connect (sf-dog-connect.com / sfdogconnect.com) or any of its subsidiaries or its affiliates.

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Dog Connect SF vs SF Dog Connect: Force Free Training vs Balanced/Force Training

Hiring a dog professional – part I

IMG_1402I joined the dog walking and training industry in April of 2007. The industry is a very diverse and unregulated industry. The quality of dog sitters, trainers, groomers, day care providers and boarding facilities varies from amateur to top notch professional.

Do you remember the Turbo tax commercial about plumber Bob who is fixing the sink and did the person’s taxes? [http://www.ispot.tv/ad/7dk0/turbotax-master-plumber] The Dog Care industry is very much the same. The only dog care provider that seems to fall out of this category is the Veterinarian. The Industry itself is better regulated and only allows for licensed and certified professionals.

How do I find a professional and what do I need to check?

There are many dog care directories and dog related associations that provide business names but often do not require proof of legal statues, insurance and licensing. It is a good way to start if you do not have a referral from a friend, colleague or family member. A professional business will be able to provide you with the following:

1. Legal business: DBA (Doing Business As), business license and permits

2. Insurance

3. Formal training, certification, credentials, etc.

4. Service Agreement, Evaluation Form, etc.

5. References: from clientele

6. Use of science based force free methods

7. Other Continue reading “Hiring a dog professional – part I”

Hiring a dog professional – part I

Training Troubleshooting Series, Part 3: Splittiness

Steve Holt Photography (steveholt.org)
Steve Holt Photography (steveholt.org)

Originally posted on Mutt About Town.

Over the past week, I have been working with a client on muzzle training her dog. In doing so, I am reminded of the importance of “splits” in dog training, and why sometimes following a training plan won’t automatically get you the results you want.

A typical muzzle training plan looks like this:

  1. Provide treats upon showing the dog the muzzle
  2. Click and treat whenever dog touches muzzle with nose
  3. Shape behavior by selecting longer nose bumps to mark and reward
  4. Click and treat when dog places muzzle in opening, luring if necessary
  5. Add duration for placing nose in muzzle opening
  6. Work on attaching straps
  7. Adjust straps so that the muzzle fits closer to the head
  8. Gradually tighten the fit of the muzzle

Essentially, we sequentially train the dog to like the muzzle, like placing her nose on the muzzle, like placing her nose in the muzzle, like keeping her nose in the muzzle, and not mind attaching or adjusting the straps.

When working with my client’s dog, we started out with the basic plan. She responded well with steps 1-4, but got stuck on step five, the duration. Despite being heavily rewarded for placing her nose in the muzzle, the minute the treats stopped, she moved her nose from the muzzle opening.

If we continued barreling through the plan without getting her comfortable with duration, any positive associations with the muzzle would have gradually eroded, and we would have hit an even bigger roadblock. Clearly, we needed to add something extra to the plan.

In dog training, this something extra is termed a “split.” As the name implies, a split is essentially a bridge between two steps, so that instead of requiring a dog to go from step one to step two, we give her a 1a (and perhaps a 1b and 1c) to make the jump less difficult. Remember learning to ride a bicycle without training wheels and needing an adult to stabilize and launch you so you didn’t immediately fall off? Eventually you were able to start the ride on two wheels on your own, but the stabilizing hand of an adult eased you into it, minimizing bruises and injuries. It’s the same concept in dog training. Continue reading “Training Troubleshooting Series, Part 3: Splittiness”

Training Troubleshooting Series, Part 3: Splittiness

Training Troubleshooting Series, Part 1: Consistency

Saying that dog training is complex is like saying life is unpredictable. It’s a massive understatement that is of little use to anyone in the midst of teaching a dog a “sit” from a “down.” Training involves communicating with a different species that speaks a different language. Training involves teaching dogs how to behave – not always according to rules that make sense in our dogs’ minds, but according to rules that make sense in our minds. Often, despite research and consultation with others, training hits obstacles – and this is often when clients call my colleagues and I for help.

Although it can be incredibly frustrating when training techniques fail to change behavior, it doesn’t mean the training is a failure. Tweaks in timing, mechanics, and procedure are sometimes all that’s needed for a successful outcome.

Over the next several blog posts, I will focus on ways to make your training more effective and how to troubleshoot the difficult spots. This week’s post will focus on a topic that is critical to any type of behavior modification program: Consistency.

Pat Miller, a noted positive dog trainer, summarized the importance of consistency in the Whole Dog Journal, writing, “…consistent responses to a dog’s behaviors, both desirable and undesirable, are predictable for the dog, which helps him make sense of his world and feel safe. A dog whose world is orderly and safe is usually calmer, more relaxed, predictable, and better-behaved than one whose world is chaotic and intimidating. Dogs and owners who perceive each other as safe, predictable, and well-behaved, tend to enjoy a better mutual relationship.”

When teaching a dog any new behavior, be it a simple obedience command or reverting a deeply entrenched phobia, repetition and consistent communication are key. Continue reading “Training Troubleshooting Series, Part 1: Consistency”

Training Troubleshooting Series, Part 1: Consistency

Thresholds: When dogs reach their emotional edge

Originally posted on Mutt About Town.

IMG_2188Until recently, I never thought I’d utter the phrase “Dog training is just like yoga.” However, in researching fear in dogs and the best practices for treating it, I’ve found a distinct parallel.

After countless yoga sessions of stretching and twisting, I’ve encountered the term “edge” quite frequently. In yoga, you are encouraged to work toward your physical edge in a pose – the moment when your muscles and joints tell you, “That’s it, this is as far as I’m going to go.” If you move into your edge too quickly, you’ll definitely experience discomfort. You might even experience injury in the form of a strained or pulled muscle, which will impede your overall progress. But if you acknowledge your edge, concentrate on it, and move into it gradually with proper breathing and alignment, you end up going deeper into a pose and opening tightened muscles.

Edges in yoga are similar to a concept in dog training known as the “threshold,” and you’ll encounter it often in training publications and this blog. When dealing with fearful and anxious dogs, the threshold is similar to the physical edge in yoga. Once a dog goes over his threshold, learning shuts down, the emotion takes over, and harm occurs. However, by knowing a dog’s threshold, working through it gradually, and ensuring a dog never crosses it, dogs overcome their fears and anxieties, much like conquering a difficult yoga posture. Continue reading “Thresholds: When dogs reach their emotional edge”

Thresholds: When dogs reach their emotional edge

Why we don’t need to fear muzzles

Originally posted on Mutt About Town.

Our world is full of safety measures. Seat belts, bicycle helmets, life vests, airbags, to name a few. Many of these pieces of equipment are cumbersome and annoying at times, but we wear them all the same because of the benefits they provide: peace of mind, safety, and protection.

The reason I bring up these examples is because in the world of dog behavior, one of the most essential pieces of safety equipment we have is the muzzle. Unfortunately,  their appearance and the judgments associated with them prevent their usage, sometimes with tragic consequences.

It’s not unreasonable that we should be wary of muzzles. After all, their main usage is to prevent dog bites, something we’ve been conditioned to fear. But what scenario is more unsettling: Encountering a dog whose owner has taken the protective measure of using a muzzle, or encountering a dog whose owner is aware of the potential for aggressive behavior but refrains from using one? While the second dog may not look as scary, the lack of muzzle presents a much more dangerous situation.  Continue reading “Why we don’t need to fear muzzles”

Why we don’t need to fear muzzles

Scientifically Speaking

Originally posted on Mutt About Town.

What's really behind your dog's behavior?
What’s really behind your dog’s behavior?

Imagine going to your doctor complaining of chest pains. The doctor determines you have a heart condition that requires surgery, and refers you to a surgeon. The surgeon, after a superficial examination, weaves you a story of what he thinks is going on. He doesn’t have a plan for your operation, but intends to muck about once you’re on the operating table and will figure out what to do on the fly. Think you’re going to sign on the dotted line for that surgeon? Of course not – you’ll be running away from the office with rapid speed!

The scenario above is ludicrous. When it comes to our health, we require science, evidence and research because our lives are too important to entrust them in the hands of hunches, whims and egos.

Time for another scenario. This time, you’re at the dog park, watching a group of dogs interact. You hear a slew of comments, all variations on the same themes: “This dog is thinking this,” “I heard that dogs do this because,” and “I know dogs think this way because I’m a dog person.”

This scenario doesn’t seem quite as ludicrous. In fact, it’s one that plays out countless times each day. Maybe you’re guilty, as I am, of uttering a variation of one of the comments above. (It’s okay, we all do it and the world won’t end.) Dogs constantly encounter interventions based on hunches, whims and egos – the same things we abhor when it comes to hiring doctors, lawyers, and many other professionals. While some of these whims and hunches are harmless, others lead to misinformation about how dogs think and learn and, even worse, can cause them harm.  Continue reading “Scientifically Speaking”

Scientifically Speaking