Training a dog

There are many methods to training dogs. I am not about to list them off, I will say, my blog today is in completely rebuking the following article:

 Power of Positive: Train Humane

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Many of us are intent on trying to be (or at least aspiring to be) positive, saying good things to each other, and looking to positive affirmations to boost our and other’s self-esteem, and to make us succeed or communicate better with each other.

When it comes to dogs though, and other animals, we usually take the military style approach to communication, or the approach of the drunk father who comes home and smacks or yells at the kids because they spilled the milk.

I work with aggressive and fearful dogs and have always used an entirely humane and compassionate approach. I do not follow or abide by dominance hierarchy or what I call “bully training.” People who embrace humane training and behavior modification principles generally have blessed and astounding relationships with their dogs and it shows by how their dogs respond to them.

Sadly, I go into homes where dogs are a wreck, emotionally, and sometimes physically, from the dominance, hierarchical, bully style approach to training dogs that has become so popular from television, i.e., the hang em’, jerk em’, jab em’, alpha roll em’, growl at em,’ stare at em,’ and generally make a dog’s walk miserable approach; force a dog to walk at an uncomfortable pace behind a person, no sniffing allowed, and sometimes preventing a dog from looking at anything of interest with a swift yank on the neck.

Dogs walk faster than most people run, and have four legs with a much lower center of gravity than we do—forcing a dog to walk behind a person is extremely unpleasant and stressful (for both the person and the dog). Dogs then disconnect. They begin acting out, don’t respond to their owners (especially off leash), become more reactive, avoid their owners, or get into a depression.

We would never shock a child into learning math. Why would we shock a dog into learning where to go potty, or to come to us when we call him?

Photo© Mary Alice Alnutt

It is amazing what joy and compassion, consistency and structure will bring to dogs. They blossom. When individuals follow correct approaches based on how animals actually learn (association learning, context learning, repetition) and build their dog’s confidence, dogs become attentive, reliable, trust their people, and are happier all around. I love rebuilding people’s relationships with dogs and watching the emotional bond strengthen between them. It’s wonderful to see clients learn how to interact with their dogs to encourage behaviors they never thought before were possible.

Animals respond to compassion, love, positive reinforcement, emotional and physical safety, psychological and physical nourishment, and consistency. It’s much easier, more effective, and results in no behavioral fallout, to teach an animal with compassion and joy, and to direct unwanted behaviors to desired ones, than it is to be reactive and yell, or bully a dog into submission.

Now that you read that, you may have on of many reactions, maybe sheer joy, or maybe like me you vomited a bit.

I by no means consider myself domineering or inhumane in my training of my animals or my friends….

I do not think using a shock collar is inhumane or says an owner doesn’t love their dog.

I do think positive reinforcement is wonderful, but I do not think this article is 100% true….clearly they haven’t had too many problem dogs…that is my direct opinion….

Zuzu:

Is my best friend in the whole world. I love her more than anything, but I did not follow the ways of training this article suggests…

I used a shock collar, I have yelled at her before, I never give her treats, I walk her more than 90% of dog owners walk their dogs, I play with her every day, I sleep with her at night, and she loves me like there is no tomorrow….

Let me go into detail here…

As a puppy, Zuzu did over $1000’s damage to my parents house (she was their dog then) ..she was unruly, wild and crazy, and didnt listen to people. My dad took her to puppy classes and she excelled, she was smart, but take away treats…she didnt care what you asked, she wouldn’t listen. We then contacted a trainer named Renee who incorporated the use of shock collars to help zuzu focus her energy. But before using the collar on the dog, everyone in the family who had access to the collar had to wear it first, to make sure no one misused it, and to see what the dog was feeling. Did it hurt? Not really. it felt funny, and yes the sensation was shocking…but it was not painful. And the collar also had a unique vibration system in it as well, so once she was trained, you could switch to the vibrate mode instead.

 

I have never rewarded my dog with a treat, in fact, whenever she gets treats, she tends to walk all over that person like a spoiled child…Instead I reward her with attention, playtimes and praise. I do not go around yelling at her for no reason, but I yell to get her attention just like I may yell a friend or a child to get their’s. Is is mean? No. Does she fear me? Maybe in some cases, but hey, if My dog fears me more than the dog might attack her…well I just stopped a dog fight…and if aggressive dog truly wants to attack, I can safely get the aggressive dog away without getting injured or worrying my dog may accidentally bite me (Not that I break up dog fights but jumping in the middle…clothes, water or other objects tend to work better than flesh)

I don’t believe anything I have done is inhumane…..no two dogs are alike, just like no two people are, everyone learns differently and responds differently, and the same thing goes for training. My vote isnt one method of training, but a mixed method.

 

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