Over the course of the last few weeks we have been discussing the power of positive dog training. We have discussed why the old “alpha” and “dominance” theories have been debunked, we’ve learned a little history about positive dog training, and we’ve discovered some science behind modern positive training techniques. This has left you, I’m sure, with an array of questions, and more than likely, a little confused, as I’ve shot down, what many deem as, “sacred canine law.” All you want is what’s best for your dog, yet you hear experts saying all different things. What’s a dog owner to do?
I’ve had many a client say, “He makes it look so easy,” referring to Cesar’s mysterious ability to solve a serious behavior problem in only one segment of a television program. “The magic of television editing,” I quip. In truth, it is much easier to coerce a dog into submission, than it is to condition the dog, and truly modify behavior. It’s very seductive to think that you can get at least one thing in your life to easily submit to your will.
The plain truth is that it’s not necessary to physically or emotionally hurt a dog in order to train him. A simple example would be saying “good boy” each time your dog sits on request. If the dog is motivated by praise, he will look forward in anticipation for the next “sit” request, as he then receives his praise. Some dogs are more motivated by food treats, others by play time or toys. Regardless, there is always something positive available to reinforce the behavior. If the dog doesn’t sit, the praise or the treat is withheld, and you get up and walk away. That simple little thing of walking away and removing your attention from the dog does wonders, and conditions the dog in a much more effective way than coercive techniques.
The above is an oversimplified example in order to illustrate a point. We all know that there are real concerns that fall outside the realm of standard obedience, and have to do with behavioral problems. Come back next week, and we will discuss how to discipline with positive, science based, dog training. See you Then!