Scotland

Jeff Gellman: Criticism of US dog trainer ahead of Perth seminar

Jeff Gellman
Image caption Jeff Gellman says on his website he wants "to eliminate the euthanasia of five million dogs a year in the United States" by properly training them

The Scottish SPCA has criticised a controversial American dog trainer who advocates the use of shock collars, ahead of his visit to Scotland.

Jeff Gellman, who also hits dogs, will host a seminar in Perth in August as part of an international tour.

However, the animal charity is urging people to avoid the two-day event, which costs up to £750 to attend.

It says training methods which inflict pain on animals are "lazy" and "cowardly".

Mr Gellman was subject to a backlash last year after a video went viral that showed him hitting a dog with a rolled up towel.

He refers to this as a "bonking" and posts YouTube demonstrations on how to do it.

Mr Gellman has argued via social media that this - as well as his use of prong collars and remote, shock collars - is effective in aggressive dogs with behavioural problems and does not hurt.

The trainer, from Rhode Island, said he saves dogs' lives by quickly training them and stopping them from being "sent to the pound".

Image copyright Jeff Gellman
Image caption The video sparked debate and an online petition but Mr Gellman defended his methods

However, a change.org petition calling to "end Jeff Gellman's abuse of dogs" has gained more than 11,000 signatures to date.

The Scottish SPCA said animals should never be trained by pain, which is only effective because it hurts the animal.

The organisation said these methods cause lifelong physical and emotional problems, and they lead to aggression and a lack of trust.

"We would strongly discourage anyone from attending this seminar when there are many reputable trainers in Scotland who charge far less money and do not inflict pain on their animals", explained Scottish SPCA superintendent Sharon Comrie.

It would also like to see a ban on the advertising, sale and use of electric shock collars.

"An animal should be trained by patience, kindness and respect," Ms Comrie said.

Image caption The controversial trainer has almost 90,000 subscribers on YouTube

Mr Gellman's seminar will focus on issues such as dog aggression, separation anxiety and stubbornness, according to its Facebook event page.

The event description states: "Jeff Gellman is proving that with the right knowledge and tools, anything is possible.

"Through his teaching and guidance, owners who were once running out of hope and lacking confidence are now leaving his seminars feeling knowledgeable and empowered".

Tickets range from between £400 to take notes at the event and £750 for two people to take their dog.

How should I train a dog with behavioural issues?

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption "Anyone with an animal that shows aggression towards another animal or person has a responsibility to rectify this problem," explains the Scottish SPCA

The Scottish SPCA advised that owners should talk to a local vet or rescue centre for advice. From there, specialists can refer owners on to reputable behaviourists.

Ms Comrie said that training animals with aggressive tendencies "takes a lot of time, patience and kindness".

BBC Scotland contacted Jeff Gellman and his firm, Solid K9 Training, for comment but they did not respond.

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