Stepping back

She yanked; she pulled, stepped on the leash, yelled and snapped her fingers. All this was delivered to the dog on the end of the leash. I don't know the whole story; all I know is what I saw unravel before me; and I didn't like what I saw. This young woman was walking a pit mix in the park. As I stood chatting with a friend the woman with the pit used us as a distraction; that is about the only good idea she had. Her dog was obviously excited by our presence.

There was a huge void in the human/canine connection; there was no praise, no reward, no guidance. What I witnessed was very common with choke collar training, anger. What was missing was the education factor; it was simple "STOP." Stop pulling; stop looking at those dogs over there and stop acting like a dog. Choke, yank and choke some more. When she wanted his attention she snapped her fingers; she kept snapping them to no avail. Why should he stop doing what he wants to bend to her every whim?

When a dog is highly excited; no matter what the trigger is you must find a way to make that dog want to listen to you. If all you have to control your dog; to connect you to your dog is a chain around his neck then you have nothing. There are times when you need physical control; but if you have nothing else to fall back on then you basically have nothing at all. This dog was completely focused on us and the human on the end of his leash was a mere annoyance. When he wouldn't down on command she stepped on his leash making it impossible for him to do anything else; or be strangled.

Training and behavior modification has come so far since the choke collar "caveman" days. It is sad to see people stepping back into the past. Had this woman brought some hotdog with her I bet she could have easily convinced this boy to listen to her and like doing it. Why not say "hey; listen to me instead of obsessing on those dogs and I'll give you something yummy?" Would you go to work everyday; do everything you are asked without getting paid? I think not.

Like I have said many, many times ASSOCIATION is what it is all about with dogs. What association do you think this dog was learning about the presence of other dogs? Not great right? But if the presence of other dogs resulted in guidance, praise and food reward; the result would be a very positive association. So please, we've come so far; don't go backwards. Step up, not back.

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