I once had a woman at an event tell me that her dog was a disaster but that training him was such an “inconvenience.” She had a family to care for, two young kids, and no time to invest in training her dog. I understand that life can be busy, especially with young kids and a job, but I had to wonder… is this “inconvenience” worth resulting in a dog who can’t control himself around the kids, is destroying items in your home repeatedly, and that you can’t take out of the house? To me that doesn’t sound like a family dog; it sounds more like a family having a dog because they like the appeal of having a dog around but don’t really understand what is involved in making the dog a part of their family.
During our first session together, this client was delighted to learn that yes, there is a better way – and it doesn’t involve intimidating her dog into submission or any kind of hitting or pain at all. We discussed what was leading into her dog’s anxiety, how to teach him to cope with that, and how to use her own energy, body language, and clear direction to set him up for success. We demonstrated exhibiting leadership based on respect, since dogs are living, emotional beings with feelings and deserve as much respect as any of us wish to have from others. After less than 12 hours, my new client contacted me, thrilled, to share that she was already seeing positive results and a change in her dog’s behavior!
Sadly, I hear of this situation all too often. We are still surrounded by television shows, books, information from Google searches, and local dog trainers who still practice the traditional-style training methods that were created long before scientific research had delved into the psychology of how dogs learn and how they process information and emotion. Even though these traditional-style, dominance-based, punitive training methods are outdated and have been disproven, trainers who practice these methods are still out there practicing because they’re too proud to accept that there is a better way. A way that will instill confidence, security, and a positive relationship with our dogs rather than one that instills fear, pain and tension in the relationship.
Let’s take a look at the differences between these two methods:
Maria Huntoon, CBCC-KA