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Pet Tricks

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Dear editor,

I am writing this letter in response to the story "Born Bad?" by Tasneem Paghdiwala that was printed on February 24. All in all, I found that the article did a good job in representing the legal plight of the pit bull terrier in Illinois in a balanced manner. My concern is with the section of the story that highlights my dog-training techniques with the pit bull named Lucky.

Initially, when Tasneem contacted me in late 2005, it was to do an article on dog whispering. I took great pains to attempt to explain to her the difference between dog whispering and dog training. In a nutshell, dog whispering is a psychological technique that I use to recalibrate the dogs' unnatural expression of fear, dominance, or aggression.

If the owner has enough of what I call the proper Alphatude then I can show the owner how to mimic my techniques. If the owner has more Losertude than Alphatude, I show the owner how to to "train" the dog. Dog training consists of training the dog to respond to commands, such as "sit," "down," and "come," as a means to increase appropriate dog behavior.

The tool that I use for dog training is what I call an "electric clicker" or "tapper." I explained to Tasneem that while my tool looks like a standard electric remote dog-training collar, I have the factory replace the standard interior circuits at my request with a special set of chips that reduces the intensity of the stimulation, so that the static tingle is so low, so benign, that the dog can barely feel the sensation. I explained to your reporter that I use a variety of "sensations" with the e-clicker: tone, vibration, and a low-level static tingle. To my surprise, none of this was reported in the article.

In my conversations with Tasneem, I used the words "tap"/"buzz" to describe how I was communicating to Lucky the pit bull terrier, but when I read the article I noticed that Tasneem wrote "shock." I find that term to be inaccurate and, I must admit, offensive. Shock is a word that, in my opinion, may imply inhumane and abusive training techniques. My unique technique "Tap and Tell" uses the tone/vibration/tingle to engage the dog's attention, redirect his focus back to the handler and the task at hand, and most importantly reward the dog for the correct choice. The tone/vibration/tingle is used as a reward for good behavior, just as one would use cookies, kisses, or hugs to tell a dog that he is a "good boy". It would have taken just two sentences in a three-to-four-page article to describe my technique to the public in a manner that was sensible, accurate, and fair.

My Web site, doggiedoright911.com, has an entire page devoted to educating the public on the benefits of my innovative dog-training technique, a gentle, humane, effective, and efficient dog-training method that educates the dog and empowers the dog owner. Information on my technique was freely available both from me and from my Web site, and I remain concerned that these sources for accurate information were not used for the article.

In closing, please understand that I am writing this article as a way to clear up any potentially damaging misunderstandings that the public may have about my dog-training philosophy and techniques based upon misinformation, or the lack of factual information, presented in the article "Born Bad?"

Ami Moore

The Dog Whisperer of Chicago

Tasneem Paghdiwala replies:

I don't claim a thorough knowledge of Ami Moore's training philosophy, as that was not the subject of my story, but I watched her train Lucky twice and asked her each time to talk me through how she was using the collar. I consistently saw her give Lucky a verbal command and simultaneously press a button on the remote control for the collar. If he disobeyed, she would repeat the verbal command and press the button again. I asked a few times if she was increasing the intensity of the sensation from the collar when Lucky continued to resist, and she said she was. She never indicated while she was training Lucky that she was using the collar to reward him with a pleasurable sensation after he did something right, describing it instead as a correction for something he did wrong.

My description of the sensations the collar delivered did not come from checking the collar Moore used, as the story stated, but from a collar used by one of her students, Jim Morgan, owner of the Chicago Canine Academy. I apologize for any confusion this may have caused.

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