Techniques that force a dog through pain (or the elimination of pain when the dog performs - i.e. "I keep yanking this leash until you listen and will stop when you do.") are to be avoided. Science has discovered are couple things that throw older research out the door.
1) Dogs are not out to take over the world or dominate us.
2) Dogs are not pack animals as humans define it.
Many of the behaviors we were taught to call dominant are really confusion behaviors or fear behaviors. The dogs are trying to figure out how to survive with us. Therefore they do what works in their mind to get what they want. Feral dogs do not form packs as early researchers assumed based on observing wild wolf packs. Even early assumptions of wolf pack behaviors have been proven erroneous. We need to eliminate the old “Alpha,” “Pack Leader,” and similar older theories.
Fear and dislike of things can cause behaviors often labeled “aggressive.” At some point the dog possibly learned the only way to get something to stop is to respond in ways that make it stop. When we punish these outbursts, we can worsen the situations. Even if the physical signs of the behaviors cease, the emotional stress is still building.
Training is building a positive relationship. You cannot do this through pain and intimidation.
My first job is to relieve stress, build trust in me and alleviate confusion. My job is to teach you what you need to do humanely to help create what you need from them while remembering that these are dogs and not little humans in fur coats
Understanding what your dog is both as a dog and as an individual within his breed or assumed type is important. I cannot make a Border Collie behave like a Basset Hound. That Golden-Poodle cross will not be Jack Russell Terrier. What we see in behaviors is a combination of: genetics, the influence of hormones during pregnancy (stress hormones can affect fetal development), early interactions between mother, puppies, and humans and then the work done by the new owner. It is a myth that certain breeds or types need certain training, chokes, prongs, shocks, etc. Every dog can learn with positive reinforcement training.
Once we understand dogs and how to work with them in a manner that reduces stress, fear, and changes how we respond to dogs, we can work with our dogs in a more effective manner.
My initial training when I was starting out in the early 1980’s was what some call “traditional training.” This training was based on physically forcing a dog into a position or to listen. You want Fido to sit, you tell him “sit.” you pull up on the leash and push down on the rump. Fido lunges at another dog, you follow with a sharp word and a yank on the leash. Since then I have evolved and changed. I know we do not need pain and fear to train dogs. Science has shown that!
I am what is called a crossover trainer. I have crossed over from the old ways to methods based on better science and research into how animals learn. You can train a dog in any sport using only positive methods if you are willing to learn.
After a bout with breast cancer in 2016, I have started pushing to even further increase my education in training.
In 2018 I completed an Applied Behavioral Analyst course through Simply Behaviour.
I am a member of the Pet Professional Guild and an affiliate member International Association of Animal Behavioral Consultants.
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