Let dogs BE dogs, please!
What exactly is it we want from our dogs?
I was watching some training videos the other night and ended up sidetracked into watching a well known shock collar trainers videos on separation anxiety...
Asides from feeling sick at how terrified and anxious the wee dog in his video was (and at the concept of addressing Sep. Anxiety with shock collars!!) , what struck me the most was how staggeringly different this guys wants and expectations from his dogs are to mine even when ultimately we have pretty much the same goals.
He wants dogs that are on their beds or place mats or in their crates most of the time. He wants dogs that walk beside him on a walk, no sniffing, no peeing or marking, no looking at anything around them. He wants dogs that do not play indoors or spend time with him through their own choice.
These things are the polar opposite of what I want in my dogs!
I want dogs that enjoy their environment. I want them to be free to choose which toy they want from the toybox, to decide if they want to chill indoors with the fan or lay outside in the sun or shade. I want them to sniff the pee-mail, look around, check things out. I want them up on the sofa with me and sleeping on the end of my bed.
And you know the completely crazy thing.. I actually want a lot of the same things this guy wants too.
I want dogs that know that playing crazy games is for outside, because thats safer than wall-of-death off the sofa.
I want dogs that can go to their bed or place mat or crate when I ask - because that's safe when I am walking around with food or hot pans or whatever.
I want dogs that walk on a loose leash because then neither of us gets hurt and I want them to be relaxed and not worried about the environment around them so they are not fearful or startled. I don't want dogs following me about due to hyper attachment, because that means there's a problem there. I want dogs to get off the bed or sofa when asked because that's safer for us all.
The major differences are really how we go about things - I teach my dogs what I want from them so that doing those things is fun and rewarding and, habit.
He teaches his dogs and client dogs, that doing anything other than what he wants is punished with a shock collar.
I want and therefore encourage the behaviour I like.
He suppresses and stops the behaviour he doesn't like.
The end result from either method can be dogs who are kept safe, who are well mannered who are easy to live with...
But my dogs are relaxed, happy and able to make choices and be dogs within a safe set of parameters of course (because some asshat is always going to suggest this means I'd let 'em run in the road or leap off cliffs!)..
His are fearful, suppressed and not permitted to be dogs... er, well at all I guess! And thats before you consider the ticking timebomb that is created by suppressing behaviour rather than addressing the root cause of the behaviour.
So when you pick a trainer to resolve problem behaviour in your dog - ask yourself what end result you want.
You can have a safe, well mannered dog without using positive punishment based methods.
If you genuinely want a dog that stays in its bed, walks without ever investigating its environment, doesn't come snuggle with you or play games with you...
I would suggest a soft toy, possibly a remote control robot, I don't think a living, sentient being, is for you.
©Emma Judson 2018