Is “training” REALLY the best solution for a misbehaving dog?
Or … is it the one thing that should be SKIPPED?
I was told:
“You need to spend more time training every day.”
or “You need to be more consistent.”
or “You need to develop better timing.”
or “You have to use rewards your dog likes better.”
THE BIGGEST MYTH ABOUT DOG TRAINING:
“If only I was a better trainer, and could spend more time training, the struggles with my dog would be solved”.
I believe that as serious and committed dog people, we need to look at where dog training is working and where it’s not, so we can keep growing and learning.
Let’s face the limitations and look for better solutions as a community of passionate people who love our dogs, let’s continue to educate ourselves…our dogs deserve that.
We have this culture of dog training that categorizes training into one of two camps:
PUNITIVE or POSITIVE
No matter which side of the road a person stands on, they say: “This is the only way that works, and the other fails miserably”.
So, as a dog lover, you ask yourself, “which method will work best for me and my dog?”
Now, the reason we are still having this debate, in my humble opinion, is that we are asking the wrong question entirely. And, I’ll get back to that below.
Let’s take a quick look at the Punitive style of dog training:
It uses Correction and Coercion. If a dog makes a choice that is incorrect according to the trainer, the dog is corrected or threatened with correction.
Unfortunately, this method gets quick results. (Fear and pain are strong motivators.) That’s why this method is still employed by some today.
I don’t know about you, but I have a visceral response to this, and I dream of a day when this method is a distant and unpleasant memory.
Then, we have the Positive style of training:
It’s the method of choice for those of us who reject punitive and coercive methods.
It uses ‘positive reinforcement’, meaning the dog is rewarded for making the right choice. The unwanted behaviors, when properly managed, fade away, and the reinforced behaviors grow into habits.
This method has gained popularity over the past 10 years. It’s allowed us to teach our dogs in ways that feel much better to us, and our dogs.
But, it’s not that easy for everyone to learn and use properly.
For many, it’s difficult to master, to get right. There’s a learning curve, and a lot of tools to manage, with the leash, the clicker, the treats or toy.
Timing is difficult to master. The steps to the end goal are often not well designed.
Even with experienced trainers, when the dog is not responding as expected, more training is done.
As more and more training is done …
Dogs become more and more confused, and try hard to make the choice that gets them the thing they want.
The dogs keep trying things to find the magic combination, getting increasingly more frantic. Or they shut down, check out, stop trying.
If you honestly look around, you can see so many examples of positive training (operant conditioning) not working well in real life circumstances. It is simply not meeting our needs, or the needs of our dogs.
It’s a world better than punitive training, certainly, but it’s not the end. It’s a stepping stone towards a better way.
So, then what does the future hold for us and our dogs?
- We don’t want to physically correct or coerce our dogs.
- We don’t want to bribe our dogs with treats and toys.
- It doesn’t seem right to treat our dogs like they are ‘just’ conditioned response machines.
What we do want is …
- A dog that loves to be with us, and is respectful and fun to hang out with.
- A dog that loves to listen, and does listen even when you don’t have a cookie or toy.
- A dog that loves to work train, compete with us…to be our team mate, our partner.
The way to get there is not through training, but through a partnership that recognizes that dogs are smart, emotional, and by design, want to connect with us in a real way.
In human research, behavioral science has been moved to the side by cognitive science.
And, modern science is leading the way to the next generation of dog training.
Through neuroscience, we now know that emotions are responsible for regulating every action we take.
Cognitive science recognizes the specialized intelligence of each species and research with dogs shows that dogs have a particular genius when it comes to understanding humans and have a natural motivation to cooperate with us.
So, we’ve gone from believing that dogs have no feelings or emotions …
… to the intelligence and emotions of dogs are not relevant …
… to dogs are emotionally driven and have a unique intelligence that makes partnership with humans a natural way of life.
Dogs, like humans, are socially intelligent … and we can and should use that intelligence to form cooperative partnerships as a lifestyle with our dogs.
OK, here’s my bottom line with training and this big myth:
Dog training is evolving, as it should. Positive training is simply a stepping stone on our journey. Let’s take the best of what IS working, and push it forward to the next best version.
And to the Myth of needing to be a better trainer or handler … I say:
You are having struggles with your dog NOT because YOU’RE not good enough…
it’s because of the limitations of the training method.
So, if your dog is not behaving as you’d like …
- If your dog is Reactive, Distracted, Worried …
- If your dog is not performing the same at shows and trials as at home …
- If you’re relationship just doesn’t seem as good as it should be …
- And if you have put in the time and effort, but the training is just not working …
What can you do instead of more of that same training that’s failing you?
Try these 5 simple tactics that are proven to work in real life (NOT just in a training class)
1. Build a foundation partnership with your dog…one that is based on trust, intelligence and the bond you naturally share.
2. Learn to truly dialog, to communicate deeply, respecting your dog’s innate emotional and social intelligence.
3. Be a loving leader and a guide for your dog … leading by your example with genuine, sincere dialog.
4. Respect your dog as a thinking, feeling intelligent being and open your heart to form a deep connection and two-way flow of communication.
5. Adopt a relationship building and partnership enhancing lifestyle that encourages your dog to be attentive and responsive and responsible to learn how to behave.
Oh, and remember that question I said I’d get to?
Instead of asking yourself:
“which training method will work best for me and my dog?”
I believe you should ask yourself:
“how can I learn to be the best possible partner for my dog, so that together, we can reach our true potential?”
It’s partnership, not training, that gives you and your dog the inspiration and motivation to work through any struggle that comes your way. You can have a better relationship and breakthrough results with less training.
The benefits of partnership is quite amazing and no wonder it has changed my own life and so many others who have adopted partnership training as a way of life with their dogs…
Which is why I’ve created “Your Guide to a Brilliant Partnership and a Happy Dog” – a FREE online Partnership Quiz.
Take the assessment, then I’ll guide you to the next steps you can take to get the quickest results using my Foundation Formula framework.
It’s simple and it works!