Facts About Dog Training Methods

There is so much confusion amongst the general public about which dog training methods to use because of idiotic reality shows and hypothetical constructs and myths that float around the internet. Ironically this confusion has not been cleared up by the humane societies and veterinarians in the Los Angeles area. The general public and the Los Angeles dog training community are largely steeped in ignorance and oblivious to ethology, the science behind force-free dog training and the innumerable benefits. It is important to hear a non-political opinion where a person doesn’t have to answer to bureaucracy or constituents, where it does not matter if feathers are ruffled in the quest to find the truth. Here is that opinion: The two camps of dog trainers are typically defined as outdated traditional dog “training,” which is often a euphemism for punitive, compulsion, force-based or yank and crank dog training (as in, yank and crank on your best friend’s neck!). These ephemeral inhumane methods are practiced by the popular reality television show host Cesar Millan. It is also practiced by “trainers” who do not believe in compassion, humane treatment of all sentient beings, science or continuing education.

How to Cultivate an Obedient Dog and Wonderful Relationship/Bond

What you, and your Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC) and Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT) should be practicing is force-free positive reinforcement dog training, otherwise referred to as modern dog training, the science of dog training, R+ or educated dog training. This is where a dog trainer actively practices and studies canine ethology, psychology, dog training, evolution, physiology, neurobiology, sociology, learning theory, and animal husbandry. This style of training uses force-free positive reinforcement to create a poised, aplomb dog that responds to your requests, strengthening your bond and creating a dog that wants and loves to learn along the way. You don’t have to look far for proof. There are a plethora of scientific studies to go along with why positive reinforcement is more effective and builds a stronger bond with your pet than traditional style dog “training.”  Positive reinforcement is the standard for dog training, is highly recommended by the scientific community and is overwhelmingly the most effective and humane method of dog training that there is. Force-free is the only humane way to dog train and/or to practice behavior modification with your pet.

One of the main reasons traditional dog “training” is not as effective as force-free positive reinforcement is because of stress. Just like with humans, stress negatively interferes with pet’s life, learning and health, both mentally and physically and is not good for the soul. When you punish a dog, they become disquieted, stressed, despondent, more fearful and insecure. They no longer trust their pet parents fully if at all and shut down their willingness to learn in fear. Learned helplessness ensues. They become afraid to experiment and try anything new for fear of getting shocked, poked, kicked, held down, forced, yelled at, leash popped, choked…etc. What do you think would happen if scientists got reprimanded, punished, chastised or penalized for the results of their experiments?  They would shut down and not experiment any longer. It is the same with human psychology; dogs shut down in fear and have no incentive to keep trying to please you or learn anything new with outdated traditional style dog “training.” If you value your dog doing nothing and just sitting there, afraid to move or to live, you should have gotten a robot and not another sentient being.  That’s not the type of relationship or love I want to provide to my dog, and it certainly doesn’t plant the seeds for a fertile and prolific learning environment.

Unfortunately for the general public, positive reinforcement doesn’t succinctly fit into a one-hour television show nor have the “showbiz pizzazz” that kicking your dog in the rib cage or by scaring the daylights out of your dog does (flooding) and therefore lacks eyeballs/ marketing and advertising dollars. American television viewers love shock and awe where ephemeral expediency trumps kindness. Many know of the reality show host Cesar Millan who practices abusive, outdated, traditional dog “training.” While he has done a lot for breed-specific legislation and breed discrimination legislation (BSL/BDL), as well as raising awareness for spay/neutering and adopting from shelters, he has equally set the dog training industry back to the 1940s when his style of “training” was considered cutting edge. He does little by way of dog training unless you consider “training” to include: flooding, learned helplessness, dominance theory, alpha rolls and forcing or scaring the daylights out of dogs. That doesn’t sound like something I’d like to do to my best friend and science proves it’s not as effective as force-free positive reinforcement dog training and kills relationships faster than Kim Kardashian.

(Back to Part 1)