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You Say You Researched The Breed, The Breeder, The Training Or The Trainer…

But Did You?

This is part of a ‘Food For Thought Series regarding the unregulated world of dog breeding and training’. More, but not exclusively for people thinking of getting a puppy or dog so they can avoid some of the more common ‘before the purchase’ mistakes. It’s also for those that have a dog and are wondering why things may not be working out.

  1. Series Introduction To: Bad Companion Puppy and Dog Training Advice (Pseudo-Science) Is Now More Common Than Good Companion Puppy and Dog Training Advice (Science)
  2. But At Least We Can Rely On Professionals Like Veterinarians and Vet Techs?​
  3. You Say You Researched The Breed, The Breeder, The Training Or The Trainer…
  4. Questions To Ask The Breeder Or A Rescue Before Deciding This Is Where You Want To Get A Dog
  5. Questions You Should Ask A Dog Trainer – Especially If They’ve Given Themselves A Fancy Title

Article Contents

Internet Search Engines Are Inherently Unreliable Stand-Alone Research Tools

Search Engines Are By Design First And Foremost Income Stream Vehicles For The Search Engine Company's Masters

Research HumorWhen we ‘research’ something on the Internet, the search engines we use (Google, Bing, etc.) rarely provide us with expert advice links. Their algorithms take us to sites that are search engine optimized, trending or otherwise popular, and/or similar to the philosophical leanings that past searches of the person that types in the topic. Those results do not constitute research. In fact, it’s pretty close to the opposite of what can be considered legitimate research. It is a very dangerous means to educate oneself. The average world citizen has come to believe this is ‘research,’ and “they have researched…”. This is a big part of why the world is in the state it is, and if things don’t change bodes for humanity at least, very poorly. It sure hasn’t done the dog-world any favors.

Why Google and similar sites aren’t legally required to provide a colossal disclaimer saying as much (These Results Do Not Constitute Research, If You Wish To Do Research Here Is How To Begin) and provide simple guidance on how to properly research a topic is beyond me. It is the least they could do to begin to undo the damage they and their bastard children, that is, social media, have done these past years.

Perhaps, rather than initially focusing on taking them to task for the rather herculean task of policing or not policing free speech, a better start would be for them to be required to include a mandatory, impossible to ignore ‘These Results Do Not Constitute Research If You Wish To Do Research Here Is How To Begin’ along with all search results. That might be as good or better an initial focus for governments looking to rein in the damage that the megaliths of Google, Facebook, etc., have done to this planet and its inhabitants.

While I’m fantasizing about passing laws whilst being king for a day, I would also make it mandatory that starting with junior kindergarten, critical thinking, and awareness of cognitive bias, and logical fallacy is taught each and every year as building these filters into our outlooks would have a positive impact on our lives and planet.

When it comes to using the Internet to find information about a breed, a breeder, a rescue, a training method, or a trainer, the links the search provides might lead to expert advice, but because of how the algorithms are designed, rarely is this the case. So the ‘researcher’ should embrace the principle of caveat emptor and consider the following approach instead.

The Layperson's Guide To 'Researching' Anything Dog-Related (Or Anything Else For That Matter)

Firstly, is the acknowledgment that technically, as laypeople, we’re not doing research. Legitimately researching something involves doing amongst other things, quantitive data analysis and for most of us that earn our livings outside of the world of scientific research there’s not enough of us leftover at the end of the day to learn the appropriate type and level of mathematics, etc. required to say we have ‘researched.’

The best we can hope for as laypeople is to gather enough balanced information so that we end up better informed so we can make ourselves, our children and our planet better and to stay on topic, our dogs and their lives better. Hopefully, the mindset we begin our ‘research’ with is one that says, “I am going to search for and review all sides and aspects of past and current perspectives and make distinctions between opinion, informed and/or credentialed well-researched opinion and legitimate scientific research.” 

How to go about ‘researching’ something isn’t hard; it is, however different and different is hard until it becomes a habit, and then it’s easy.

Media And Journalism

What Science Is And Isn't, Or What People Often Don't Understand About Science That Is Often Used Intentionally Or In Ignorance By The Media, Conspiracists, The Stupid, And The Ignorant

  • Science isn’t supposed to be final. It’s similar to democracy, it’s not perfect, but practiced appropriately, it’s currently our best bet to a decent life and future.
  • In science, a hypothesis and a theory and a fact and a law are all different, and the distinctions should be understood.
  • If an article refers to science and as opposed to a scientific hypothesis, theory, fact, or law which it is referring to should be established.
  • Research implies ongoing development, not a final ‘answer.’
  • Non-scientists often and sometimes bad scientists have been known to overstate results.

Before Saying, "Science/scientific Research/study Etc Says..."

    1. Did you read the actual study/paper?
    2. Do you know how to read a scientific paper/study? (See section under next heading.)(Also check out: ‘Ten Simple Rules For Reading A Scientific Paper.)
    3. If the answer to 1 & 2 were ‘No.’, do you know if the author of the source you are quoting, knows how to read a scientific paper/study? Or are they also, blindly passing information along? (See section under next heading.)

When Considering The Legitimacy Of Anything Referred To As 'Science' At The Very Least Consider

  • Is there an agenda and/or conflict of interest? (Funding or affiliations of the researcher or research team or the funder)
  • Was the research published in a known to be a reasonably reliable journal?
  • Was the research peer-reviewed?
  • Has the research been duplicated?
  • Were controls in place for key differences?
  • Has the research been replicated?
  • Was the sample size significant enough to be considered significant?
  • Is a discussion or consideration given regarding the potential for alternative explanations or limitations that should be acknowledged?
Confirmation Bias

Here's The Bare Minimum You Should Do When 'Researching' Anything

  1. Beforehand, identify and write out where your own confirmation biases may lurk on the topic.
  2. Beforehand, identify and write out the opposite of your biases.
  3. Commit to spending equal time and effort gathering information on the topic from the perspective of both biases.
  4. If science is mentioned, can you locate it to determine whether the science referred to is cherry-picked or can reasonably be applied to the topic?
  5. When not an actual research paper, try to find information authored by credentialed informed opinion as opposed to authored by someone that may or likely has an ideological or profit motivated dog in the race, that might influence their opinion/thinking/bias?
  6. Constantly ask yourself, “Do I agree with what I’m reading or listening to because it’s what I wanted to hear”? Does that necessarily make it right? Is it even remotely possible that it is wrong? Literally, in written form list reasons, it might be, however remotely possible, that it is wrong.
  7. Constantly ask yourself, “Do I disagree with what I’m reading or listening to because it’s not what I wanted to hear?” Does that necessarily make it wrong? Literally, in written form list reasons, it might be, however remotely possible, that it is right.
  8. If it is remotely possible that it is right or wrong, and it almost always is, more or less some of both, use your lists to keep digging.
  9. Ask a trained librarian for help researching the topic. They’re wonderful!
Hug a librarian


With the above in mind, do you think you truly researched the rescue, the breeder, the breed, the training method, or the trainer? Don’t worry, if not, you’ll do better next time. If you believe you have, I believe I can in under five minutes make a good argument that may not have been the case. Provide me with enough time to do a seminar and you’ll never look at these worlds the same.

When you don’t know, what you don’t know, the easier it is for others to sell us, rather than inform us. I ’know’ little to nothing about most things, but after thirty years working full-time as a companion puppy and dog trainer, there are a few things I do know about with regard to companion puppy and dog training and behavior, including how rescues, the breeding world and amateur trainers along with their self’-serving pseudo-science pushing associations’ sell to companion puppy and dog owners in a manner that benefits them and not companion dog owners or their dogs. In fact, they’ve done untold harm and continue to do so.

Considering that on average our relationships with a dog lasts as long or longer than the time we spend living in one place, with one person, with our next toaster, isn’t it worth taking the time to learn how to do a little better research regarding our next canine companion rescue, breed, breeder, training method or trainer?

John ‘Ask The Dog Guy’ Wade

The Entire Series...

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