AMERICA'S CANINE EDUCATOR - THOMAS DAVIS
"I always try to find out what doesn't fuel me first, and how I can get rid of those things in life." Thomas Davis, America's Canine Educator
This week on SCIENCE Jeff and Dustin talk about some recent news from Mars including the discovery of large ice sheets under the surface and a beautiful panorama from Curiosity. Weeding out what doesn't fuel you is the topic of What Fuels You and the recent sports riots in Philly round out The Roast. Finally, there are some huge reveals and details about upcoming mugs on The Update from The World's Strongest Coffee.
ABOUT THOMAS DAVIS:
Thomas Davis started working with dogs at a young age and had an uncanny ability to connect with them. Later in his life, he realized that not everyone could do the things he does with animals and that he had a gift. Since then, Thomas has opened his own business, Upstate Canine Academy, and is highly sought after for his different and successful approach to educating dogs and their owners with his ethos of 'No Bad Dogs'. He joins the show to talk about his career, his animals and where he is going next.
Thomas: It started when, I think, much like a lot of other people start kind of their dream job or their passion job or whatever you wanna call it, is I was doing things with dogs that other people couldn't do fairly quickly, right? So you would say, hey I've tried for weeks to pick up this cup of coffee. I can't do it. I don't know how to do it. There's something not right. And I would just do this and be like oh my God. How did you just do that, and I'd be like, how do you not know how to do that, right? In terms of working with dogs, that's how easy it was for me at a very early age. And so that's what kind of developed it, and people started kind of like, hey how about you help me with picking up this cup of coffee and whatever. And so that's pretty much how it started is I was naturally able to do things that were inside of me, an innate ability to do things other people couldn't. That's where that started.
Dustin: Wow. So how old were you when you decided to make it a career? Yeah.
Thomas: A career? Yeah, it's a good question. I was 21, so 20, 21, I would say when I-
Dustin: Which is a little bit later than I would expect, because at that point you're probably thinking about college an all that nonsense.
Thomas: No, I was in college.
Dustin: Oh, okay.
Thomas: That's the thing is I went to a local college, and I didn't like somebody telling me how creative I could get with my career. I didn't like somebody telling me how much money I could make, and so the comfort of that and that casting, even if I wanted to ... I was going for law enforcement at the time. I still would have branched off to started my own something at some point, so yeah, I was definitely in that realm of ... And all my friends were too, which made it extremely difficult, because your 20's, 21, 22, 23, 24-ish, and everyone just wants to go out and get drunk and have a good time, and all I wanted to do is build a business. And so yeah, it was definitely really hard at that age, but it was the pinnacle of I'm either gonna do nothing, or I'm gonna do something.
Dustin: So 21, you decided to make it a career. When were you able to start your first business?
Dustin: Okay, cool.
Thomas: That's when I started, yeah.
Dustin: Great. And how'd that go?
Dustin: Yeah, a little bit rocky at first?
Thomas: It was terrible. It has to be. If you get lucky right off the bat, then it's only gonna go downhill.
Dustin: Right. Right.
Thomas: You know what I mean? If you guys started a business, and all of a sudden, were on the Super Bowl commercial the next month, you guys would have failed.
Dustin: It's like somebody who's athletically talented doesn't work as hard on their technique.
Thomas: Right. Yeah, exactly. And yeah, so when I started right off the bat, it was more mental, definitely, because at that point in my life I was able to just get by with a little bit of finance. I didn't need a ton of money at the time, because I was living with friends, or I was living in relatives' basements, or things like that, so that's my advantage and leverage. However, it was a mental thing. I mean exposing my friends to an entrepreneurship type mentality and creativity of going outside of the path that they were all doing, where my mom and dad were paying for their college funds, which is ... Hey that's great. There's nothing wrong with that at all. However, I just was so off that beaten path, and it was definitely a tough time mentally I think, starting off, for sure.
Dustin: Then it happens, but when did you feel it kind of start to come together and if you have yet?
Thomas: Yeah, exactly.
Dustin: I think that's a point of life is that you don't really get it until it's too late.
Thomas: That's it, and I think with people who do what we call passion projects, I would say, you're never satisfied. And that's what keeps driving me to do bigger and better things and be a better person for the dog community is I'm never gonna be satisfied. And if I am, then I've lost what I started for. Do you know what I mean? So there was definitely times in my career where I was like, okay this is cool. And it literally just started happening two or three years ago. And I've been doing this for almost nine years now. And the first four or five years, no money, no benefits, nothing. It was just a drag, but to answer your question, there was something inside. And kind of going back to what you asked before about what made you continue to start and things like that is there was something inside of me that said, just keep going. Keep putting the grease on. Keep going. And when I was working with dogs, there was just this numbing-ish type feeling of man I'm really making a huge difference here. And if I don't continue to keep going, then it's gonna be selfish, because I have something special, and that's something that kind of ... That came to me. I didn't come to it.
Dustin: I feel like that comes with any good skill that somebody has. You have the drive to use it, or you start to lose your mind a little bit. A musician who doesn't pick up an instrument for a long time will start to kind of fall loose at the seams a bit.
Thomas: Yeah, and that's exactly what it is, and I'm still kind of burning this path of ... You think of a dog trainer ... which I'm not. I'm an educator. But in my industry, it's the middle age, stay-at-home mom with something to do, and they go out. And they get a cert, and they say, I'm a dog trainer, and whatever. And for me, it's so different from that. And so anyway, yeah, there's one of those things that this is crafty for me. It's my craft, and that's what's allowing me to be able to break down new doors and make way in the industry is because it's different for me, where that's it. It's a craft.
I didn't just go, oh I love dogs. I wanna go work with them all day. It was like, holy shit. I have something. I gotta use it. And then I do love what I do.
Dustin: It's almost your responsibility as a good human to put your skills to good use.
Thomas: Exactly. Exactly.
Dustin: Or else you're not doing it right. You're not living right, and you're not making the impact on the world that you should be.
Thomas: And you internally don't feel fulfilled.
Dustin: Yeah, absolutely.
Thomas: You don't feel like you're doing enough, and each day when I work with dogs, no matter how late it is, how tired I am, how sick I am, how hung over I am, it doesn't matter. When I get into that realm, much like a good musician gets on the microphone, or the violin, or the artist that gets in front of a canvas, when I get into that realm of okay her we go, everything clicks for me. And when I started doing that at a young age, I'm like click, click, click, click, and it just felt so right. So I knew it would pay off in the end, but I mean pay off, I mean scale, where I can help millions of dogs, because a lot of people chase money, and I don't.
Dustin: So how do you get to reach more dogs? I mean, I see you now. You're online presence is strong. You're Instagran ... Why can't I say Instagram?
Dustin: Your Instagram game is next level, which is great.
Thomas: Yeah, thank you, and for me, I never see it like that, because it's what I do.
Dustin: Well, it's that not being satisfied again. You gotta keep on chasing it, yeah.
Thomas: Yeah, everyone says that all the time. I went and looked at a couch in Saratoga randomly on Craigslist. He's like, hey everyone I know follows you on Instagram. That's cool. And I'm like, I don't ever look at it like that.
Dustin: You're not allowed to be too satisfied with yourself.
Dustin: Or else you'd stop moving.
Thomas: You'd die. I would. But that's the thing is if I felt that fulfillment when I woke up one day, I would be screwed mentally, emotionally, physically. Everything would die in me. But to answer your question, how do I reach the masses, I think?
Thomas: So there's a couple things that I can't legally talk about right now.
Thomas: Yeah, but there are some things in the works right now to help me fulfill that. But that's ultimately, I do a lot of phone interviews, and I've done news, and newspapers, and articles like that, which is fantastic. And the question is what's your ultimate goal? And it's interesting because you can go into my facility right now and look at the articles, and it's funny, because I'll usually do a big newspaper article once a year. And each year, what's your dream? What's your goal. Each year, I fulfill each one after another, and so now ... Yeah, it's pretty cool.
Dustin: Wow. That's awesome.
Thomas: It's amazing. It's a really cool feeling, and it's cool for me, but it's also cool to show my people who are working around me. And I'm like, hey check that out. I've done all this. But anyway, to reach the masses is my ultimate goal, because my philosophy and my ability to connect owners with dogs is proprietary in what I do. So there's a lot of people who are great with dogs. There's a lot of people who are great with people. But there's not a lot of people that can marry those two. And so that's what we're trying to figure out, and we were just discussing this actually a bit earlier is we're starting a dog pod ... dogcast. Hey, that's good.
Dustin: Dogcast. I like it.
Jeff: I like that.
Thomas: But no, we're starting a podcast to help ... So I do a lot of YouTube stuff too. And it's really hard, and it's like any industry. If you have a big issue, and you can just say, hey don't do it like this. Do it like this. There's a lot of times I can't do that in the video, because I can't predict what the dogs are gonna do, so now we're starting to create podcasts where I can have a subject and then talk about it, and then that will help people. So slowly we're building to try to help the masses. And I'm actually starting to ... I'm training more dog trainers than I am people right now it seems.
Dustin: Oh wow.
Thomas: Yeah, I have more people coming in from across the country, that I'm working with, that are gonna go out and be their own trainer, or they're already a trainer, which is great because it essentially fulfills my goal.
Dustin: Yeah, you're affecting one person that affects-
Dustin: Yeah, exactly.
Thomas: So they go out and deploy a little bit of information I've given them. I don't clone myself. But they may have some things that hey, I am not comfortable doing this. Can you help me. And if I'm able to then help them do that, they're gonna deploy that for the rest of their career. So I'm starting to do that on a very micro level, but I think within the next year, we have some really big opportunities that are pretty looking good.
Dustin: What is the difference between a dog trainer and a dog educator?
Thomas: Ooh, it's a good question, and I'll answer it the way I think I should, because I don't really know the exact answer. And that's the thing about the dog industry is it's one of the biggest industries in the world, billions and billions and billions. And we're talking food. We're talking toys. We're talking products. We're talking clothes, everything. And so it's a huge industry, and it's not regulated that much, right, where with kids, you would have to have some sort of maybe certification to do a certain thing. Or you'd have to have a health code thing or whatever.
With dogs, there's nothing, and so what did you ask me?
Jeff: The difference between an educator and a trainer.
Thomas: Okay, sorry, so I get into vortexes sometimes.
Jeff: That's good. That's what podcasts are for.
Thomas: Cool. Yeah, so what I do, again, is ... And that's kind of what we're starting to ... I'm working with some different writers and some different creative products I guess you could call it. And we're trying to figure out ... They come to me, and they go, you have something. What is it? And I'm like, I don't know. And they're like, well how are you doing things that other people can't. I'm like, I don't know, right? So then we started realizing, well I'm not training, right? So the broad answer to that is dog training to me is training for the big game, right?
So having your dog sit and stay. That's training, if you do that. So say I would bring my dog out, and I worked on sit and stay over and over and over again with a bunch of different environmental stressors. The duration got longer. They did for 20 minutes, and then they did it for an hour. They're really great for that. Well that training is for me to come to a place like this and tell my dog to go sit and stay. And then this is the game right now, three throws when you're just in the gym by yourself. That's training. This is the big game.
Dustin: Real world situation, right, yeah.
Thomas: So to me, that's what training is. And it doesn't have to be geared or focused on reality training like I just talked about. It could be trick training, where you wanna teach your dog how to jump, and spin, and high five. That's training, right? So training to me is you're practicing for something, and then when you wanna perform, whether it's hey look at what my dog can do when there's buddies over, and you guys are drinking and having a good time. You're like, oh that is the big game.
Or it's bringing your dog out in public and putting them in a down stay as you drink a cup of coffee, or have a beer, on a patio. So training to me is what can you do behind closed doors to make your life better in a realistic atmosphere.
Dustin: Interesting. Interesting. I really like that. So kind of going off of that, I was looking at some of what you have put out online, and you have a very interesting way of educating the dogs that you work with. In fact, when you go to your website, one of the things that you talk about is you put them in a real world situation, and in a situation where a lot of educators might not do it, you would go to a facility, and it would be closed doors, very quiet. And it's like, okay I'm going to instill this type of education on your dog. You take them out and do ... I watching in one video. You take them out into a back alley with a bunch of cars going everywhere and a bunch of noises.
Jeff: One interesting part of that though, in that video, you said you're giving the owners confidence to have their dogs behave in public. Where did that idea kind of come from, of going that track of education?
Thomas: Yeah, it's a good question, and that kind of goes back and pertains to what we were talking about before, the difference between a dog's trainer and an educator like myself. And people are starting to really focus on that too. You'll see more and more people go I'm a human educator, not a dog trainer, which is great. And to be completely honest, I just said that, and I didn't make it up or anything like that, so I don't own that or anything, but I do own the America's Canine Educator aspect of it. So here's the answer to that is ... So you come in, and you say ... This is what happens. The owners come in, and they blame it on the dog, right?
So they go, my dog is such a pain in the ass. They jump on my friends, my family. They won't sit and stay. I have to put them away. And so what I do is I'm sitting there, and I'm somewhere else by the way. I'm thinking about what I'm gonna eat for lunch. So an hour goes by, and then I'm like, okay so what we're gonna do is I'm gonna show you is it's actually not the dog, and it's you. And they go, yeah okay buddy. And I say, listen here's the thing. As I've statistically can say that, because we sign up new probably 600 new dogs a year on top of the dogs we've signed up previous years. I work seven days a week 14 hours a day, so I can statistically say this is what's going to happen.
And it's not me being pompous or cocky, because that's not me at all. I can just say, this is what's going to happen, because this is a business, and these are almost numbers. So I say, there's an issue here. And they go, well, what do you mean? I said, you, you're the issue. And some of them go, I know I'm the issue. I know I'm the problem. That's good. When they have that mentality coming in, we can take off. But when they come in and they start pointing fingers and blaming, then I have to reverse the role, and me and the dog are sitting there going, do you hear this, right?
And that's pretty much what happens, because my ability to ... And it's not like this mysterious gypsy communication thing at all where people kind of knock off, and they say these things, like dog whispering and things like that. It's not that. It's just I understand them so well. When they come in, I'm already on their page, and so then what I have to do is then educate the owners, so this is where the education comes in, about what they're doing wrong. So we point fingers, but we never know what the core of the problem is. And then once I say, you're the issue, they basically, professionally, they say, prove it, and I do it. And then I do it within minutes, and they go, holy shit. I'm the problem. And I'm like, okay can we move on now or what?
So that's pretty much the whole ... every single time.
Dustin: Is dealing with dogs similar to dealing with humans, and do you think your knowledge of dealing with dogs has made you better at dealing with humans?
Thomas: See, it's the opposite, right? So my ability to communicate with canines, and again, not on this crazy gypsy ... It's just we have an understanding, but that's the same thing as being really great at basketball when you're born or being a great artist. You can't teach that, right? So I have the ability to do it, and it's not the ability that other people think, like the Long Island Medium or anything like that.
Dustin: Yeah, you're not like Dr. Doolittle over there.
Thomas: Exactly, no. It's just okay, I get you, and you get me. And let's move forward. So my job is to stand up for jobs and to train the masses of people of what they're doing wrong, so I have to have more patience with people than I do dogs, because when the dog comes in, I shit you not. It's crazy. When dogs come in, and again, I can statistically say this, and you can look on any source of media that I have. I can get the dogs to do what the owner is begging me to do and praying for me to do and spending thousands of dollars on in minutes. And it's not me saying that. It's me actually doing that. And I have a hundred videos proving that.
And that's not just on every dog. That's the average dog coming in. My dog jumps, pulls, doesn't listen. I go ... And I change everything around, and me and the dog are sitting there like this to the owner like, do you get it now? The owner's like, oh shit, right? And so I spend probably, literally ... And this is why I'm doing things differently and a bit proprietary. When people come in I go, I'm probably gonna work your dog for about 10 minutes out of the hour that you're here, and then I'm gonna tell you basically everything that you've done wrong and more importantly how to fix it, because that's really big.
I'm not that guy that's like ... Some trainers do. They're like, you're an idiot. And I'm just like, hey look it. Here's the things is your dog's doing all of these things because of you. And they go, huh? And I go, ready, and I show them. And they go, oh my God. That makes sense. And then we move forward. And then I teach them, so I can't say I'm a trainer, because I'm not. I [inaudible 00:19:13] I'm terrible at training. I don't love training. When people come in, they're like, I want my dog to shake. I'm like, go to PetSmart. Or I want my dog to whatever. I'm like, no, that's just not me. I'm a problem solver, and I help people understand their dogs better. And I don't know what to call myself but an educator.
Dustin: Yeah, I think that's a perfect title for it, and this job now has taken you ... You are based in upstate New York, right in our backyard, which is awesome, but it's taken you all over. Can you talk a little bit about that? Where have you kind of ended up because of becoming a canine educator?
Thomas: Yeah, it's a good question, and I think that I could probably answer that question better in about two years.
Dustin: Oh, nice.
Jeff: All right.
Thomas: Yeah, I'm finally getting on a realm now where it's really cool, and I'm super grateful for it, because I'm documenting, right? So I'm creating content on some level, but I'm documenting everything. And it's helping me mold my craft, I guess. And so what happens is as I grow, as an educator, and people kind of figure out ... Thompson knocked over the camera.
Dustin: That's totally fine.
Jeff: I think we're good.
Thomas: The camera still looks good.
Dustin: So we're gonna get to you soon Thompson. You wait right there.
Thomas: Yeah, he's like he wants the mic. So it's interesting, and I'm super grateful for it, but it's taken me all over the country for sure. But it's also given me different realms of education. I work with police. I work with trick trainers. I work with therapy trainers. And I travel all over, and people are like, we want you to come in to do this, because what you're doing is different, and you can make things make sense fast.
So it's taken me all over, and I'm able to work with some really great people that are on different ends of the level of ... They don't do dog training, but they're big in something else or something like that. And I always tell people, there's so much more people out there that are better than me and more experienced, but my ability to match things up with owners is what makes me different, so a lot of people are just like, I can get my dog to bounce on one paw, speak three different languages, and sip a cup of coffee.
And I'm like, cool. But they can't teach anybody how to do that, right? And my ability is they say, how did you just get my dog to do that? I've been literally working on that for years, or months, or days, or whatever. It's broken up my marriage. It's done this. It's done that, on all ends of the spectrum. And then I'm just like, well look at it this way. And they're like, whoa. So I guess rolling into that question of it's brought me all over, it definitely has, and more opportunities are in my wheelhouse right now than ever before.
Dustin: That's excellent.
Thomas: Yeah, but I think some of the people out there or even you guys are like, buy why? The why is because I'm kind of paving a new way of doing things, and I'm not this guy that walks ... If I se dogs in public, I don't pay any attention to them. You know what I mean? Again, I didn't work for the craft that I have. I worked for the business I have. Does that make sense?
Thomas: So when you're able to just go out and do things pretty naturally and that's it, you don't go around, hey look what I can do. I literally don't looks at dogs. I don't touch dogs. I don't talk to people about their dogs. I look the other way, because I feel almost sometimes embarrassed, seriously, about ... And people will do that ... People will be like hey there's a dog. What do you think? And I'm like, I don't care.
Dustin: Well, it always gown to one of my favorite sayings, those who know don't speak. Those who speak don't know.
Thomas: Oh yeah, that's good. I'm gonna write that down. That's great.
Dustin: So I mean, you don't need to prove to yourself or to anybody else of your skills and talents, because they're there, and you don't need to go around doing tricks for everybody.
Thomas: No, and the big thing to go into that too is again, it's not the dog. This is kind of a dark subject, but it's kind of like drug addiction, or alcoholism, or something like that, where if somebody's having an issue, but they don't want help, then they can't get help, right? And so if somebody's getting dragged down the road like this, or they're sitting outside drinking a bear at Druther's or something like that, and the dog's literally jumping and biting food and stuff, and the owner's like ... I can go fix that dog, but the owner's the one that needs help. So that's one of the other reasons why I never help people unless they literally will come in ...
The only way you can get work with me with dogs unless you literally come into my facility, and then, as bad as it sounds, pay me money because then I know you're invested mentally, because they're the issue.
Dustin: Well with that analogy of drug addiction, it makes me think of when we talked to Laura Morton. She's an author that we had on our podcast, and she talked about the four main addictions, which are not what you think they would be. They're not drugs, and sex, and all those things. It comes down to four things.
Dustin: Yeah, I know, right? It's drama, what other people think about you, the past, and what's the last one, Jeff?
Jeff: I was hoping you remembered.
Dustin: Hold on. I can't remember right now.
Jeff: That's okay.
Dustin: But it pretty much comes down to those four basic things are the basis to any addiction, so if you're so wrapped up in what other people think about you, you may end up driving yourself a little bit nuts and then turn to drug addiction or [inaudible 00:24:58].
Thomas: Right, okay. Yeah, so those are the stems.
Dustin: Or if you're tied up in the past ... Yes, exactly, and that makes me think that dog owning, it kinda goes down the same line where if you don't have those four things in line, you might be a bad dog owner.
Thomas: And the funny thing with that is too is when people come in and I look at the dog, it's weird, just like anything. Some of you guys here at the Death Wish, you guys could probably taste coffee and be like, it's tainted with a little bit too much this or that. You know so well. You know the product is then ... So anyway, when dogs come in, I know exactly how they are at home.
Dustin: Worry. Worry's the last one. Sorry.
Thomas: That's okay. How they are at home. How they are with their kids. What kind of job they have. How they are to their spouse. I know all of that, because dogs are so intuitive with humans, well animals in general. So I work with a lot of different animals, but animals in general are so mirroring. They just reflect, because they're sponges, right? So man's best friend is I wanna help you be happiest, so what do I need ... And so when dogs start acting a certain way, it's a reflection on the owners, so when they come in, yeah. I know exactly what type of person they are.
Dustin: Well, dogs are not wrapped up in the material things in the world.
Thomas: They're not politically correct, no.
Dustin: They don't care about what they own, how much money they have, if they're gonna be lonely the rest of ... They are connected to the very building block of life-
Thomas: Exactly relationship.
Dustin: They're mirroring those basic building blocks, and you may not even notice, but now the dog is displaying issues that you have that you didn't even know you hae, because you're too concerned about how much money you have and all those top things.
Thomas: Yep, and there's a couple different videos on my YouTube channel. They get pretty emotional, because I'm looking at the dog, right? And I'm looking at her and him, and that's the thing. People are coming into me as a dog trainer. Some people know how I am. They travel all over to get to me. And they soak up everything. And I love that, because I know that they're gonna learn. And that's all it is. And some people don't. They're like, oh dog trainer down the road. He's a little bit expensive, but fuck it, we'll see, right? And then I start going ... I'm like, huh, this is a weird dynamic here. And I go, have you ... And we'll get into some pretty interesting stuff about abuse, things that have happened to them. And I can tell with the dog, and then that's where I'm looking at myself, and I'm like, what the hell did I get myself into?
Dustin: You're a therapist now.
Thomas: It's a huge reflection, and that's what it is. We have people all the time that come in. They say, I got this dog, and I'm like, look your dog's obedience is great, meaning your dog will sit and stay forever. But your dog's not happy, because you're not spending time with your dog. And you can't buy that, right? So people will come in, and they're like, here's a bunch of money. Fix my dog. I'm like, nope, not at all. You couldn't give me enough money to fix your dog, because I'll do it right now, but then I gotta fix you, which you don't have enough time for. So leading to my next point is I don't know if I read it, saw it, heard it, but I heard it maybe somewhere that ... or maybe I thought it. I don't know, but I've always wanted to go around New York City, or I go to California a lot to do some seminars and stuff like that, and there's homeless people everywhere.
But their relationship with their dog is so great. That's all they have. And it's exactly what you were just talking about is their relationship is solely based off ...
Thomas: Yeah, I trust you. You trust me. I love you. I respect you, all these things, and you'll see homeless people walking down interstates with no leash, and their dog's right behind them. But think about it. Even if you get off Exit 15 here in Saratoga, sometimes, there's people, especially in the summer, there's people with dogs all the time out there. And they're just laying there. No food, nothing. They're just sitting there. And I always tell people ... And they get a bit offended sometimes. They say, why does my ... And I said, a happy dog never runs away.
Dustin: It's true.
Thomas: And they go, what do you mean? I said, well if your dog's constantly, literally, finding an escape all the time to run away from you, chances are your dog's probably not happy, right? And so that's an interesting concept to think about going into what you were saying about they don't care about money, cars, what you do at your work, and things like that. But that also has, I think, a great toll on the people that do have a lot of that. And really, uber-ly, famous, wealthy people can then go home, and their dog's a dog to them. You know what I mean?
Thomas: It's just gotta be hard being in that position sometimes, so I think it works both ways.
Dustin: Yeah, I mean, as a big time celebrity with tons of money, you're walking everywhere. And you're constantly questioning if everybody's being genuine to you or if they want something from you.
Dustin: Your dog only wants attention. He wants love. He wants food every now and then, and that's it.
Thomas: Yeah, exactly.
Dustin: So they get to experience that wholesome, that real person-to-person-
Thomas: It's real.
Dustin: ... person-to-dog experience, yeah. It's very real, so they get to have that real moment. That makes sense. Have you ever had a case where it just maybe everything didn't make sense, where you had a dog, and it was very badly behaved. And it didn't really make sense, because the owner was doing all the right things. Have you ever had any situations like that?
Thomas: Yeah. Yeah. Totally.
Dustin: And how do you approach something like that?
Thomas: Well, and again, what I'm doing and the majority of the dogs that I'm working with are the owner, I would say, literally nine and a half or nine out of ten. But considering all of the dogs that we bring into the facility and all the dogs that we work, there are some issues. And this is kind of sticking up for the dog training community I guess is there are definitely some dogs out there that are wired wrong. And they are neurologically born that way. And sometimes they do develop into weird things. Charles Manson was a little kid, an innocent kid at one point in his life.
Dustin: That's true.
Thomas: And I could go forever on that type of things, but the point is dogs are puppies, and then all of a sudden, they mature into what they are. And then sometimes, when people come in, they say all of a sudden, my dog ... And I'm like, how old's your dog? Oh, year and a half, year. I'm like, well it's not all of a sudden. It's your dog is now maturing. And your dog's becoming you they actually are.
Jeff: Almost like dog puberty.
Thomas: Yeah, pretty much, and so yeah, there's definitely some times where dogs will come in. And it is. It sucks, right? But it's rare, rare. I just did a post about this I think yesterday or the day before. But people are so uneducated, and that's why I'm literally, constantly fighting that battle to help. And the information that I provide, not only is effective, but it makes sense, which I think is important, but there are certain dogs that come in, but it's very rare. We always deem the dog aggressive, dominant, alpha. Those are the three things I get all the time, and it's all bullshit. But definitely there are sometimes where I'm not confused by it, but I'm like, okay how do we manage this? Or can we manage this, but not can I. Can the owner?
And that's where even some dog trainers in the industry will respectfully say, why would you let that dog still be alive? And I have to be like-
Dustin: But that goes against your no bad dogs, right?
Thomas: It does. It does, but I believe ... And I always stand my ground ... I mean, I've been put on the spot a lot for what I do, and that's the double edged sword of what I do. I have to see a lot of shit that I don't wanna see. I love what I do, and I love dogs more than the next person, but it also exposes me to a lot of shit, so I'll get a phone call from another trainer, or a vet, and they'll say, hey we have this dog that we're about to euthanize, or kill, or whatever. Can you help? What? Sure?
Dustin: Now it's on your shoulders, yeah.
Thomas: Yeah, of course it is, but again, I've also saved hundreds of dogs lives by just simply going hey idiot, don't do that anymore. And they go, really? Yeah. Oh, okay. And it saved the dog's life. And they're still breathing today, and they're out running in the fields having a good time.
Dustin: So is it a matter of pinpointing of what that neurological issue might be and then kind of working on it from there?
Thomas: It depends. I mean, if it's seriously ... Like I said, it's rare that the neurological thing happens, but it's such a weird topic. But it's hard. Okay, so if we have a dog that comes in that basically will be neurological or what I think could possibly be a neurological, meaning they are just a basket case. It happens, right, just like people. So what I have to do then is decide ... Because I know that I can manage it, and then people will go, well why don't you bring the dog into your house? I'm like, this is not my fucking dog. I didn't create this, right? I'm just trying to help. And so what I have to responsively do is say, okay, does this person or does this family have the ability to then manage what's happened? And that's the most important thing moving forward for me. It's my responsibility to say this dog will and can bite a child. Can this person do the training properly? Can they be really stern about please don't pet my dog. My dog is going to bite you, because a lot of insecurities, human on reaction, will actually put a dog up for failure, right?
Because your dog's potentially aggressive, randomly, and then there's this guy that comes up, can I pet your dog? He's in training. I'm really good with dogs. Okay, bam, right, and then you're like, shit. And then the dog looks bad. So I guess, to answer your question in a roundabout way, it's not so much how do I fix the neurological behavior, because you can't. How do I teach the owner how to manage it and can they? And I always leave that up to them. I say, can this dog still be alive and have a quality of life? Yes, but is it gonna be a full-time job? Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Dustin: And at the same time you don't wanna tell somebody, okay you got it figured out. And then their kid gets bit by the dog.
Thomas: Right, or going back to-
Dustin: You have to make sure that they're comfortable with it.
Thomas: Right, and they're consistent, because the dog is a dog. And the dog's an animal. And so they're opportunists, right? So if you had a really bad day, and you come home and forget to put the muzzle on when you bring your dog out for a nice walk, because you're tired, or you just didn't feel like it, although it's going against what I said, who's at fault, right? If you came in and said, my dog is aggressive towards people randomly, randomly, and it'll happen once a week. And I said, okay that's weird. And I may never see it, because they're with me once a week. But if I said, hey why don't you just successfully teach your dog about the muzzle and teach your dog that the muzzle's a good thing. Put peanut butter on it, all this thing, and make it fun, make it good. And then when you actually need it, go out, and then I say to you, I want you to go out with your dog.
And I want you to have a good time. I want your dog to have a quality of life. I want you to have a good relationship with your dog but just put a muzzle on your dog, right? And then we're successful. Nothing bad is ever gonna happen because of that. But I'm like, those are the only contingencies to make sure that your dog is going to be safe to the public. And you kinda sign on the dotted line if you will and say, okay fine. I can do that Tom. That's what we're gonna do. And then you go out and oh, I don't really want to today. And then he bites somebody. Where do I point my finger, right?
I have to be like, dude I tried to help you. I get what you're going through, and it's not easy. And to be fair, kudos to you for not just killing the dog, because it's up to you to decide. Is it gonna be my full-time job? I always think about the dog. Is the quality of life ... It's kind of like a dog suffering from something, or an animal suffering from something. That's the last act of kindness you can do for them is let them go, because they're suffering. So I always say, is it gonna be stressful for the dog forever? Well, if putting a peanut butter covered muzzle on your dog, and letting them go out is not stressful, and you can do that, then do it, but if you don't, and I give you those rules, shame on you.
Dustin: Yeah, absolutely.
Jeff: So through it all with the ups and downs of starting the business, getting into the industry, the 600 dogs a year, like you said, which is an incredible number, what fuels you to keep wanting to get out there, pushing yourself to helping people with their dogs?
Thomas: Ooh, good question, two things off the top of my head is let's put it this way. I always try to find out what doesn't fuel me first.
Jeff: Very cool.
Thomas: So what I don't like to see, how can I get that out of people's lives, and how can I get it out of my life, not only on a dog level, but I wanna eat better, right? I don't wanna do this. I don't wanna do that. What can I do to get those things out of my life, and I don't want things in my life that doesn't fuel me, right? So those are some things that I always try to put into perspective that way is instead of working on I wanna be a millionaire. And I wanna be fit. What are some easy things that I can say that doesn't fuel me, that I can take out really quickly, like I don't wanna do sugar anymore. I don't wanna do chicken. I love chicken wings, right, so things like that, right?
So that's the first thing is try to figure out what I can get rid of quickly. And then the other thing is again, I think that every person, truly I believe this, was put here on the planet to do something, whether or not they've been drained ... Excuse me, they've been drained or they've been sucked out from society, probably, and then they get derailed of that purpose ... And I think that that's a good question, because people always think of your purpose in life should be you're gonna be the best MMA fighter. You're gonna be this. You're gonna be that. It doesn't always have to be glam, and money, and things like ... You could be a really good fuckin' car salesman, or you can make microphones beautifully, and you're not gonna be a millionaire, but that's what you're supposed to be doing.
You're the best at it, and you love it, so do it. But I think too many people are focusing on, I can't live my dream, because it's not gonna make me a ton of money.
Jeff: Or fame or-
Thomas: Or buy a Ferrari. It's like no, no, no. That's not always what dreams and purpose is about. It's always about what can I do every single day and wake up and go, I'm gonna go do what I'm supposed to be doing. And so for me that's what it's about. That's what fuels me is I know that I'm on this Earth to help, not just dogs, but people. And then I started developing my craft, and that's what fuels me every day to get out of bed, to say, how many dog owners do I have to prove wrong today? But that's what I love to do. You put me in a room. That's what I love. I literally get this sensation in my brain, that when somebody brings a dog to me and says, this dog is this, I get excited.
Chemicals in my brain literally fire off. That's when I know that I'm doing something that I should be doing.
Dustin: It's like you could look at a chalkboard with a big math equation, and you might get stressed out. But a mathematician might get pumped-
Thomas: Exactly, and that's what fuels me is I know that I'm on that track. And I literally, genuinely, feel sorry for the people who are out there not doing that.
Dustin: And sometimes it's hard to figure out.
Thomas: Of course it is.
Dustin: And you may not figure that out until later in life, and sometimes it doesn't have a payoff immediately. And it might have a payoff after you're gone, after you're dead and gone and a thousand years down the road they discover something that you were looking at, and nobody else was looking at. So you can't have that payoff as the thing that you're striving for. You just have to strive for the thing that completes you, that makes you feel like you're doing the thing that you should be doing.
Thomas: Exactly, and think about what we talked about before. You guys were kind of like, when did you really realize that you were blah, blah, blah. I worked for literally five solid years before I made any money. Why? Because I knew at one point, not I was gonna make it big. No, no, no. I knew at one point I was gonna be able to get to a level that I can comfortably live my life, financially, spiritually, emotionally, physically, and still do what I love. I knew that that was coming, because it was inside me. I don't get the feelings I get working with dogs for fun.
It's not a hobby of mine, were a lot of people take up dog training as a hobby because they're retired, or their significant other makes a ton of money, and they don't have to work or something like that. No, no, no. This isn't a hobby for me. This is something that I generally feel like not a gift, not like special power gypsy shit. It's just I literally feel like I'm supposed to be here doing that. And again, going back to what I said, I genuinely feel sorry for those people who can't find that, but like what you said, it's so hard. And sometimes when you get those opportunities, people opt out. They're like, is it worth the money, or you can't see that. And then people are like, not for me.
And they miss out on happiness, and I think that that's what true happiness is about, especially in life, but we get so caught up in the society that we live in, that you have to be mom or dad, or you have to go to college. And sometimes you do, but that's what I was talking about. There are certain people who have to be structured to say, you have to go to college, because if you don't, you're gonna sit in your dorm and drink all day. You have to go to work. But there's also a lot of people out there that aren't caught like that. And then they go, well what do I do? How do I get started? But I think, in today's society, with social media, and now entrepreneurship is sought after. It sucks, because it makes me look bad, like oh he's the business ... I was a business owner before it was cool. And not to say, oh I've been in the industry for 40 years, but when I started my business, I had to go through hell.
I got laughed at, but I don't look at myself as a point where I'm anything at all. Other do sometimes, but I definitely don't. But it's really hard, and I think if we really focused more on helping people understand that you don't have to go to college. You need to continue your education. Back in the day, it was craftsmanship, right? It was you're good at this. You are now Tom the welder. Or you are the blacksmith or whatever. And today's society, we're sticking people into school, and we're literally setting them up for failure. You're gonna have $120,00 worth of debt, and you're gonna get a job you don't like.
Dustin: At that point, you're forcing somebody to decide on what they wanna do for the rest of their lives, at a point where they're gonna know it the least. When you're 18 years old, Jesus, do you remember being an 18 year old?
Thomas: Yeah, I remember sitting in the-
Dustin: 18 year old me making the decisions that I have to live today. That's fucking scary.
Thomas: It's not fair.
Dustin: Yeah, and then on top of that, you have to financially live with those decisions.
Dustin: It's tough. It's a tough world when it comes to that.
Thomas: But that's what I remember is literally sitting in the guidance office, and I was a CCC, the student, right, and I was a super senior. I went to school an extra year, and the only reason, to be completely honest, the only reason why I graduated is because my mom fucking wanted me to. Little did I care about that piece of paper that said I was gonna be a thing. I didn't care. But 100% honesty, I knew, on my dog's life, that's lying right there, that I love, that I knew, that I wasn't gonna be in that path, 100%. I walked down the hallways throughout high school knowing that I wasn't gonna be like all of my friends.
But I don't want anybody to think, oh. That doesn't mean success. That just means I'm going to do something different. And when they sat me down in guidance, and they said, what do you wanna be, I'm like, I just care who's buying me beer this weekend, let alone ... Why make a decision when you're 18 that's gonna literally ... You're gonna have to make a decision when you're 18, 19 years old to feed your wife and kids or husband with. That's such a big decision. I don't think it's right. I think we need more programs to help kids be a little bit more innovative and use their creativity to their advantage, instead of saying, are you gonna be a doctor, or a lawyer, or a scumbag?
Thomas: But, to their defense, there's nothing wrong with any of that.
Dustin: Absolutely. So if somebody were looking, asking for a friend, if somebody were looking for a dog, do you think there's anything that they should be looking for as far as traits or-
Thomas: It's a great question. Yeah. Yes. I mean, I could talk for hours on this, but to sum it up, yes you have to look at a dog ... But I also think that people who are adopting dogs out, fosters, rescues, shelters, should be looking at the people, because then ultimately, they are make it or break it for that dog. And you wanna be really careful about that. So I would definitely say breed, something to look at.
Dustin: How do you feel about pit bulls by the way? That's always a faux pas thing.
Thomas: Yeah, yeah, you wanna go down that road now?
Dustin: Sure, why not?
Thomas: Okay, so my two favorite breeds to work with are pit bulls and Labs.
Dustin: Yeah, and they're the two technically most dangerous dogs, right?
Thomas: Yeah. Yeah, or Golden Retrievers, but pit bulls and Labs, to me, are a dog that is so loyal, and once you start working with them, they're like, I will do anything for you, anything, please, for you, right? And so if you get a dog that's like that and you get a dickhead person to say, be a dickhead, the dog's gonna go, I love you. I will do that for you, right?
Dustin: So sad thinking about that.
Thomas: So that's my thing about pit bulls is they're one of the most loyal dogs on the planet. And they have abilities to be monsters just like we do, so they're just sought after, because people are going, why is my pit bul aggressive? Or why are pit bulls aggressive? You asked the question of just common knowledge of why are pit bulls looked liked this? Why are they getting this picture? It's because they're the most loyal dogs on the planet, and people are buying them for misuse, right?
Let's talk about real quick gun control, real quick, right? You could literally go out and buy a pistol and protect your family with it, or you could just go out, and police officers use them to protect themselves, not use them wrong, right? Or you could go to the shooting range, because you like to do it, because I don't wanna work out. I wanna go shoot a gun, because it makes me feel good, or marksmanship, or whatever. Or you could be a fucking idiot and go do something terribly wrong with it, but I'm not gonna get into that, because that's huge, but-
Dustin: It's a good parallel.
Thomas: Yeah, but my point is you can take anything and make it look bad. And sometimes we should get rid of that bad thing, because it eliminates the variable. But the problem with dogs is nobody's really protecting the pit bull of you can't breed a pit bull or have a pit bull unless you've passed a course, or whatever. So they're just getting looked at terrible, because people are doing terrible things with them, and they'll do anything for people. But they're not doing it with Labs, because Labs aren't muscular, and they can't hurt, and they can't whatever. And pit bulls are just the perfect tool, if you want them to be, to be bad. And that's what's happening, and then their genetics through breeding and backyard bullshit is ... You could take a Golden Retriever and through the lines of backyard breeding make them just nasty dogs, because inherently, that's what they're supposed to do, because everyone else that came from that litter are like that, so I love pit bulls to death. But unfortunately, they're, again, one of the most loyal dogs on the planet, and people are being idiots with them, and that's my thing.
Dustin: That's so sad. Yeah.
Thomas: It is. It's terrible.
Jeff: I'm so happy and impressed with the knowledge that you have in this industry, and that there are people like you who are standing up for dogs, and dog trainers, and dog educators. I think it's just amazing. I wanna thank you so much for taking time to talk to us about it, because it was something that I didn't even know that you were local. I knew who you were, but I didn't make that connection. And Dustin was like, we should really reach out because we're always looking for interesting people to talk to, and boy, I wish you best. And I want all of our listeners and viewers to know where they can find you.
Thomas: Well, my social media platforms on Instagram, you can find me America's Canine Educator, or thomasj_davis. My Facebook, America's Canine Educator, and then I have a YouTube channel, America's Canine Ed, I think, or you can just-
Dustin: I'll put it all up-
Thomas: Yeah, and then I'm also coming out with a podcast later, probably next month called "No Bad Dogs," which is gonna be just like this, talking about all the bullshit that dogs have to go through with people. And that's pretty much how you could find me the best way.
Dustin: Excellent. Excellent. We'll put all those links up too.
Dustin: And thanks again, Thomas for talking to us.
Thomas: Sure, absolutely.
Jeff: Yeah man. Thank you.
Thomas: Yeah. Cheers.