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Monks of New Skete--what are your criticisms?

32685 Views 24 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  dOg
Now that I have spent several months reading and researching training theories and methods, I can honestly say the one that makes the most sense is what is contained in the Monks Of New Skete - How to Raise a Puppy, and their DVD's. (I know they have since retracted some of their methods of corrections.) I have taken notes from MANY different sources that I will implement into the training of my upcoming puppy(definitely NILIF), however for the most part I feel they are the way to go.

Overall, they seem to have the same approach that I naturally would agree with. They view their dogs with utmost respect and consideration and understanding, however they don't treat them like sensitive children (to each his own, i know), and I really appreciate that. I like how the admonish not to let the dog sleep in your bed with you, and how they recommend physical and vocal praise over treats when training, among other things

I have heard some conflicting opinions about their training though, but I would like to hear what you think. What do you agree with, or more importantly, disagree with?
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To be totally honest, I find "My Smart Puppy" by Brian Killcommon and Sarah Wilson a much better book and approach-- especially if you have a new baby puppy coming soon.
The New Skete books are not bad though.
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Quite some time ago a person from PA posted a response to a question about the Monks and it was not very favorable. It dealt with the number of dogs they raise that end up in shelters, and there refusal to even correspond regarding the dogs, much less take them back. It was her opinion, but I cannot verify from first hand experience thather criticism of the Monks was accurate.

Before I got my GSD, I was seriously considering getting a pup from them. However, their correspondence regarding purchasing a dog was horrible. Just try their web site and you can form your own opinion.

I did order all the videos from them, and there is a lot of good information.

But there follow-up to questions is non-exsistent, even if your are a customer.

My advice, avoid them, and hopefully the person that has first hand experience with them will be more specific.

But I know he/she will only respond to you via personal E Mail.
Although I am in PA and volunteer with a rescue, I'm not the person Timber is referring to - however, I have had first hand experience with New Skete dogs ending up with rescue and with puppy buyers having problems. The response was neither positive nor supportive when the Monks were notified that one of their dogs was dumped in a shelter and then transferred to rescue.

Does that eliminate the possibility that they have a solid approach to training? Not necessarily. I personally also prefer other books and approaches, but you have to make the right choice for your individual situation.
Their books are on my big shelf of dog books. I like their old school methods. Like any other subject, read all you can and take of it what you will.
It's been a while since I read their books and when I did it was the older stuff. I found it to be appealing then but I've since found other books and other methods that I find much more effective. The thing about dog training techniques is that most of them work, it's more a question of how well, how quickly, and how positive the experience is for owner and dog.

At this point I am completely sold on clicker training. Done correctly (which too often it's not), it's a sight to behold. The delight in your dog's eyes that you're FINALLY communicating what you want in a clear way is a truly transformative experience.

I like bonding and trust but for undestanding dogs, I prefer Patricia McConnell and Jean Donaldson as authors.

Did not know that about the M of NS breeding program. I'm not impressed. Like any breeder, they should take responsibility for their dogs.
Throw their old alpha roll suggestion out and keep the rest.
The BEST thing I got out of The Monks book was how great a routine is. I was SUPER strict with my boxer. Napt ime, eatimg. bed time.... IT HELPED A TON!!!!!!!!!!!

I do not understand why not use treats. I didn't with the boxer because she was toy motivated, not food. My shepherd is food motivated so I am useong that with him.
I'm with Pupresq. I buy (and borrow from the library) as many training books as I can...well, mostly I *buy* the ones recommended here and by my training instructors. (But I read every one I can get my hands on.) I read them with an open mind. Then I incorporate what works for me, my dog, and my pack into our life.

I do like Patricia McConnell, Jean Donaldson and Ian Dunbar. Pat Miller's articles in Whole Dog Journal are always helpful. But I wonder if my crazy high drive adolescent GSD would make even McConnell, who appears to have the patience of a saint, get exasperated some days.

Heck, even Cesar Milan has a good idea. (Yeah, just one.

So, that's my advice. I have the Monks' books. Some of their ideas are good. Some? Eh, I'm not thrilled with them.

I learned that going to classes and working with my dog gave me the knowledge and confidence to be able to take the good information and pitch the rest that didn't fit with THIS particular GSD. My next dog will be his own dog and will require me to be flexible and have a different set of skills and tools.

I call it the Eclectic approach to dog training. And I recommend that you keep reading...

In all that *free* time you'll have with that brand-new puppy that's arriving next week!
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I find I learn from many sources. I think the biggest thing about these books is my dogs don't read them. So the advice, while good and sound and in some situations it works I'm not sure is right for all situations and all dogs. That said, I don't think we ever stop learning - I've seen things from many sources that work for some andn don't for others.

I agree about the routine. I agree with some of what Cesar does/says and Victoria Stillwell. Often it's more a case of "well that's neat but I don't have that problem" so file it away. I've had to balance what I read/see with reasonable expectations of what the dog in front of me can do and is likely to do. And invariably mine will do stuff NO ONE covers! Like one eating candles out of the blue. The tea light candles.
pops them out of the holder and I come in the room to find 10 metal flat chewed pieces. He never got sick, never got sick in the feed issue last week and is never allowed in the office...and the box with the candles in it has been moved but if he thinks I'm not looking he'll start going after where it used to be.
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Originally Posted By: JanH I think the biggest thing about these books is my dogs don't read them.
If my GSD starts reading the books, then I'm really in trouble because then he'll know all MY tricks and tools too. I'm barely on a level playing field as it is, with the experts in *my* back pocket. But if he knows the Team Human strategies as well? Yup, I'd be scr#wed.
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I heard that some of the dogs they bred ended up dumped in local shelters or rescues and when they were contacted, they did not respond or just didn't care. That fact alone means I will never buy and of their materials...
I tend to agree, although there articles/books on puppies are helpful.
The "Art Of Raising A Puppy" is a very good book. Kind of basic, but it is detailed and informative. I loved the temperment testing part of the book and thought that was very interesting and thorough. The training methods in the obedience book seemed fine, with the exception of the alpha-roll stuff that could probably get someone killed with the wrong dog (and if memory serves me they refute this in a newer edition that recently came out). Again, there is nothing earth shattering about their methods, but the books are easy to read and are informative. Sad to hear about the reports of lack of interest in re-homing dogs that they bred. I thought that they put potential owners through a detailed screening process based on their books and website information.
I teach K-9 Kindergarten and have utilized Pat Miller, Jean McDonaldson, Patricia McConnell, Karen Pryor, Cesar Milan, Monks of New Skete, U of Tufts, I know I'm forgettting someone, but have taken all those books and videos with me, recommend them and that the handler owners pick and chose and form their own training program of what works for them. What works with one pup will not always be what works for the next one. I find it's always a new venture of digging into the brain database and if "this doesn't work, try this approach".
It seems that training is always a work in progress or as the websites say "Under Construction" approached always with an open mind and thirst for further and future knowledge.
I agree Patsy...
I'll also chime in and say the best teacher is right in front of you, on
four legs! Books are great, but hard to read while the dog is chewing on
you, trying to get you outside to play!
I was the one that commented on their dogs ending up in shelters/rescue. The rescue I belong to has personally ended up with a number of their dogs. As is our policy...we have contacted them to notify them that we have one of their dogs. We never even get a response.

I can't comment on their training methods...never looked into them....
That surprises me and disappoints me, but you have first hand knowledge.

That being said, I still like them and recommend their philosophy and methods.

Let me also state that MONS are <u>not</u> the only highly visible breeders who have refused to take pups back that they sold from their kennel while their get sat on Death Row.
Originally Posted By: Patsy

Let me also state that MONKS are <u>not</u> the only highly visible breeders who have refused to take pups back that they sold from their kennel while their get sat on Death Row.
Quite true, and I keep the others on my Blacklist as well. I will not get pups from them, nor will I pay them for training services or purchase products from them.

I'm not singling out monks, I just don't like to support ANY breeders that do things in ways I think are questionable. There are enough other great trainers and behaviorists out there for me to find adequate materials about training and puppy raising.
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