Dog trainer defends training method after controversial video surfaces
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE): A video is making its rounds on social media of a Providence-based dog trainer, forcefully throwing a towel at a dog.
The Rhode Island SPCA said they received over 100 calls from all over the country.
"It's heartbreaking to see it," Joe Warzycha, President of R.I. SPCA said. "The dog responds to a manner that's indicative of pain."
The man in the video, Jeff Gellman, owns Solid K-9 Training in Providence. He also has a training seminar, where he travels all around the world. The specific video circulating on social media was taken at a seminar in Vegas.
Gellman specializes in dogs with aggression and behavioral issues. He says the video is taken out of context.
"It looks like I'm hitting a dog that's doing a perfect sit," Gellman said.
In this case, he says the owner of the dog came to the seminar because her dog kept pulling her out of her wheelchair.
"So it's a service dog in training. We have to stop this or she can't use her dog anymore," Gellman said. "People who come here are really struggling."
According to Gellman, in the video, the dog is lunging forward. To stop this behavior, Gellman uses the technique of "bonking."
Heather Gutshall, a certified professional dog trainer and a behavioral specialist says there are other methods of training an aggressive dog besides using force.
"We first want to understand the cause of the issue," Gutshall said. " I use the analogy that if you had a teenager and they were throwing a temper tantrum you could spank them and get them to stop but you haven't dealt with the underlying issue."
Gellman understands that his methods are controversial but he claims it has worked for his clients for years.
"To stop them from doing something you can't reward that," Gellman said. "You have to make it quick. Unemotional. Matter of fact."
Warzycha said because the video was taken out of state they don't have jurisdiction to investigate.