Beware of Sit Happens, LLC Dog Training in Aurora, CO. Pepper Greggs (the owner) has been caught on film by a neighbor, and the evidence of abuse is unmistakable.
When we say that you need to be choosy about the dog trainers you work with, this is why!
Pepper Joy Greggs has been wildly popular in the Denver area Great Dane Community and offers free training events, dog training classes and private lessons, boarding, board and train and AKC Canine Good Citizen evaluations. She also moderates for the local Great Dane community on Facebook.
All things that make her appear to be reputable and ethical.
However, this video of her outright abusing a dog leaves no room for misinterpretation.
This video was taken by a neighbor who claims that this is not an isolated incident.
It was shared by the owner of the dog, a young Brindle Great Dane that was in boarding this week with Pepper Greggs at Sit Happens, LLC. The dog is clearly terrified.
In the video you can see the dog trainer hit the dog multiple times. She also yanks the dog around by the leash. Twice, she strings the dog up by the neck.
Now, if you are a Dane lover (as we are), you know that Danes are sensitive, both emotionally and orthopedically.
It will be a miracle if this dog doesn’t have lasting temperament, behavioral and physical problems at the hands of this abuse.
We watched this video many, MANY times before deciding if we were ‘overreacting’ or not.
We never want to sink the reputation of somebody that made a simple mistake.
This was not a simple mistake. Many people get frustrated and angry in life; they take it out on a wall, do some art or scrub their house. They never take it out on a defenseless animal.
ABUSE CAN NEVER BE MISTAKEN FOR TRAINING
Unfortunately for the dog that is in this video, there is no mistake. The dog is being abused.
Many dog trainers who use tactics like this (choking, hitting, harsh leash yanks and ‘stringing up’ by the neck) and are eventually caught will justify it by saying that the dog needed a more ‘severe’ punishment. (Remember the Service Dog Project trainer from a recent Dumpster Fire Danes Tuesday post?).
Behavior science tells us, however, that severe, punitive, harsh physical punishment contributes to stress, fear, frustration, confusion and aggression. By putting actual science before the opinion of a person that was willing to do this to a dog in the first place, we can see just how wrong it really is.
There is no justification for doing this to a dog, to any dog. Especially not when you consider that Great Danes are prone to wobblers, degenerative spinal disorders, orthopedic problems and bloat (which is often related to stress).
Pepper, the owner of Sit Happens, LLC in Colorado is an AKC Evaluator (Canine Good Citizen) and as of this writing has 4 surrendered Dane puppies in her care, plus boarding clients. We’ve reported the video to the AKC and have heard that the surrendered puppies are being removed.
As you can see Pepper has established herself as a ‘professional’, leaving many people upset that they were lied to.
(Update: ALL the puppies now have loving homes, YAY!)
AN IMPORTANT NOTE FROM HELLO DANES
We have received several reports that Pepper is being bullied by the community.
Threatening Pepper and her family, calling her house, visiting her house, sending her messages, commenting on her personal social media accounts, sending unsolicited messages to random members in the online Great Dane community, leaving one-star reviews and being hateful directly towards her is NO BETTER than what she did to this dog. Be a good person, folks.
Do NOT be a vigilante! Do NOT be a bully! Be an adult, please.
Share positively to help educate people on this problem as it relates to dog training as a whole. Help educate people about what to look for in a dog trainer, but do NOT take your frustrations out on Pepper herself. Bullying is not an appropriate response. She is facing legal challenges as a result of this and the law will take care of it.
Hello Danes does NOT stand behind or condone the practices of those who are resorting to personal attacks and bullying. We believe that the Great Dane community is BETTER THAN THAT.
ETHICAL DOG TRAINERS
-Will never hit, kick, scold, choke, string up or alpha roll a dog, for any reason.
-Understand modern canine behavior science and will effectively and humanely utilize the quadrants of operant conditioning (read more about those here: https://www.hellodanes.com/how-dogs-learn-the-basics-for-great-dane-training/)
-Gracefully manage a difficult or aggressive dog with muzzles, crates, desensitization, confidence-building and counter-conditioning, not abuse.
-Rely primarily on positive reinforcement (praise, treats, fun) to teach and increase correct behaviors.
-Will choose appropriate and thoughtful corrections when needed, but never as a means to teach new behaviors or to force compliance, especially with fearful, timid, confused and frustrated dogs.
-Are always transparent about their methods and do not hide behind behavior ‘woo’.
We believe that the only way for Sit Happens, LLC/Pepper Greggs in Colorado to save what’s left of her reputation is to acknowledge the problem and present a long-term plan of action for fixing it.
This is unlikely to have been an isolated event (a truth that has been confirmed by the person who filmed the video above), and speaks to bigger issues not only in this training program, but in the training industry as a whole.
Tread cautiously when choosing a dog trainer, and especially when choosing to leave your dog in the hands of a stranger. A LOT of people are completely surprised by this, and that’s so unfair to them. My heart breaks for the dog owners who have always felt that their dog was in good hands with her.
Pepper Greggs with Sit Happens has always marketed herself and her training methods as ‘spiritually informed’. She claims to be an activist and driven to resolve deep seated issues related to past experiences, abuse and trauma.
No wonder people are surprised to see this. She doesn’t present as the ‘rough’, punishment based discipline trainer that you might imagine. As a matter of fact, her entire website feels very welcoming and positive.
Since this video went viral, MANY members of the local Dane community have come out of the woodwork.
An alarming number of people are saying that something felt ‘off’, so they never returned.
Others are saying that their dog came back “afraid of the leash“, or terrible on a leash, and they regret sending their dog to her.
I believe that because of this trainers popularity, many people had been afraid to speak up.
When a trainer, breeder or otherwise is the most ‘popular’ recommendation or even a monopoly, question it.
I believe that several people felt compelled to continue recommending this trainer, even when they felt like something was off. If other people swear by it, who are they to feel or say otherwise?
It’s hard to be the voice of opposition.
Not to mention, the people that could really spread the word (including breeders and those that organize and lead the local social meetup community) truly had the wool pulled over their eyes. They had no idea and happily recommended her as an ‘expert’ to Dane owners and puppy buyers. They are all shocked, no doubt.
What an interesting and tragic social experiment. Be diligent, be aware, and recognize that word of mouth is only PART of the puzzle when it comes to making a decision about choosing a trainer.
BOARD AND TRAIN
Unfortunately, this is NOT the first time that a Great Dane has been abused in the hands of a board and train situation.
For some reason, rough handling, neglect and abuse are unacceptably common with board and train facilities. There have been many stories of Great Danes coming back terrified, underweight, flat-footed, knuckled, untrained or worse, missing or deceased following stays with dog trainers that offer this service.
Be aware. Ask about methodology, daily routine, nutrition, medical issues and what happens when the dog does something WRONG. Verify how much experience the trainer has working with dogs, and if that trainer is the one doing all of the actual training. Ask if there are live video cameras you can watch, and seek information about how they plan to train you, the owner, on how to work with your dog every day.
Remember, training is an ongoing process. It’s never one and done.
At Hello Danes, we do not recommend board and train for most situations. We believe that the most ethical, effective and appropriate training comes from YOU. The owner and handler working with the dog, one on one, developing a positive relationship and learning how to learn together.
We have no interest in bashing Pepper Greggs with Sit Happens, or in ruining her life, but we do think it’s important for dog owners to be aware of her actions here, and to be aware of the fact that this kind of thing happens more than we know.
How do you feel about this situation? Have you had a bad experience with a dog trainer, or a good one with Sit Happens in Colorado?
Leave a comment below!