Harsh training methods

I am on many groups; for training, breed related and photography. On one of the training groups I am on currently; there is a discussion on chokem vs positive training. The group is a positive training group which is what I am and proud of it. The discussion was sparked by someone supporting the harsh and archaic methods of the big tv star Ceasar Milan. Its a hot topic these days in the world of training; he has single handedly moved training back several decades.

As a positive trainer you look to educate a dog; it is based around rewarding the behavior you want from the dog which will at a high likelihood repeat itself. Most behaviors are broken down into achievable size steps which quickly head towards the final goal behavior. Many positive trainers use clicker training; personally I do not use a clicker and rely on my own voice. I believe that leadership is very important with dogs, dogs are pack animals and thrive with a good leader. Being a good leader means that you educate, guide with patience and are reliable.

Choke'm training uses a completely different method and relies on a collar to deliver the message. When a dog is doing something you don't like; you yank on the collar giving a quick pop; a "don't do that" message. Ceasar does not believe in praise; or at least he didn't before, I have not watched it in a longtime. He may be changing his ways because of all the controversy. On his show the choke collar is always placed up around the ears which is a very soft and vulnerable spot on a dog; of course you have control when you put a chain around there.

From much experience both from the past and present I have seen harsh training methods create anger. Its all about stopping your dog from doing things. There is no thinking involved, just stopping. If your dog does not stop; of course it is human nature to grow frustrated and impatient leading to anger. I have so many sad stories of harsh training methods. I was called into one family after a harsh trainer totally ruined their beautiful Golden puppy. After he was through with him all that was left was a shell of what he once was, so sad. The good news is that I did help the family to bring back and retrain this guy with positive methods.

And then there was the lady I talked to in a store who asked if a dog rolled over and peed was that normal in training? I was appauled and cringed and the image, she told me about her soft yellow lab who was yanked and yanked in an obedience class by the trainer. The dog looked at her guardian with "help" in her eyes. The lady didn't know any better but when her dog finally dropped and peed she thought maybe something wasn't right, how sad.

I worked with a dog who had definite aggression to a raised hand; especially when there was something in your hand. We found out later that the huge dog rescue group uses a paper towel roll to hit the dogs in the face so that they don't bark. So the fall out behavior was a defense mechanism. I have so many stories I could fill a book, sad.

Alpha rolls are another huge misconception and being reintroduced by the big tv star. An alpha roll is a last resort; wolves in the wild do not regularly roll their pack members. Lower pack members will drop in submission but the only time a roll is used is if all else fails. That is when there is usually impending violence in a pack. Constant alpha rolls can completely break a dog or cause needless aggression; it's a loose, loose situation.

Do yourself a favor and start researching. There are many great dog behaviorists out there, Ian Dunbar, Patrica McConnell, Jean Donaldson. Below is a great article.


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