Many of us grew up with the dominance theories for training dogs. That was all there was and it was all about controlling the animal to behave. For some reason while taking care of the duck today (of all animals), I began to take in account the impact these practices would have had on my dogs if I had continued it. Like many, I started using the same techniques with my first dog and carried them on to Silver. It was when I got Brut, my problematic dog when I began searching for something different and was introduced to clicker training and the entire theory of positive reinforcement. For some reason, it struck me suddenly how these evolving theories have changed everything I do with my dogs. From the way I think, to the way I react and I found myself being washed over with gratitude. Not only did I believe and understand them, but they coincided with my own beliefs and love for animals. They gave me the freedom to explore further the emotional bonding to have a deeper relationship and a level of equality and a sense of well being with my dogs. Something I always found conflicting with the "old school" ways.
While I use a wide variety of techniques and training skills, they are based on positive reinforcement to some degree or another. I have even adapted some of those "old school" techniques for use with positive reinforcement under special circumstances and have had great results.
I have found that it isn't just a theory or an idea, but more of a way of life that not only pertains to my dogs, but myself as well. It is more than just giving your dog a treat when they do a good or the right thing, but a sense of respect, communication, and bonding between two living beings. It isn't just a set time that they have your undivided attention, but how we learn to respond to each other throughout the day that adds quality to both of our lives. Being able to co-exist in a harmony and balance that I think many would agree was lacking some before if we look at how far dog training and theories have come.
I would personally like to thank the founders and believers who made those astonishing breakthroughs, that continue to challenge our lives today to have a better relationship with our dogs and to be the fantastic owners that our dogs are worthy of. They simply deserve it!
Does anyone else feel this way about the changes that have happen to dog theories for the better? Or do you think we still have a ways to go?
Beautifully written. I still cringe when I think how I trained my first dog. I used a chain collar.
If I had known about positive reinforcement training then, I would have used it. It's amazing how much more bonding and understanding goes on when one takes the time to learn about alternative methods that don't require force or pain.
I'm sharing your post. Loved it.
I agree - this post is beautifully written, and thought-provoking. Thank you.
I too am a firm believer in positive reinforcement, but I also only discovered its benefits much later in my life. It has become more and more obvious to me that each dog is different - like each human being - and before one gets too stuck on a method, one should spend time getting to know the dog's intricacies and unique characteristics. We learn as we go along. A sprinkle of our own wisdom and maturity also adds to the recipe. There is so much we don't know about dogs and I must admit (from my own experience) that there is a mystical element in our relationships with them too. The human-animal bond is dynamic and often misunderstood. Thanks for a wonderful post and an opportunity to comment.
MAXMOM IN SA
I agree too. It's funny but I was just thinking yesterday about how training has evolved for the better. I saw a beatiful rottie on my way home and it reminded me so much of my first dog. I always have a sense of guilt for the classes and trainers that I took him to. Even at the time, I felt very uncomfortable with their ways but positive training wasn't mainstream then, at least around here. He was a wonderful dog in spite of it all.
I feel the same way about training my dog. I think people have changed their whole perspective about children and dogs and how to educate them. I'm glad they have and I hope the old methods will be used less.
This is such a wonderful post.
I have so much fun clicker training the new foster dogs who come into my life now, and feel sad that I didn't go through the same joyful, positive bonding experience with my own dogs when I got them. But it was many years ago and no one was talking about clickers then, and if you didn't alpha roll your dogs you were made to feel like a failure.
I do think our bond with our creatures is spiritual, and positive training is such a wonderful way to honor it and make it stronger!
A wonderfully written post.
The techniques are not new ones, just now we are more aware.
I was raised to use a reward system to handle all of our animals...I just wish I had thought to write a book!
I love this post! Beautifully written. I couldn't agree more that it is more like a way of life than a training style. I think that's why some people are so hesitant to believe it can work because there really is more change than JUST with training.
Perhaps the saddest thing in the world is taking a clicker training class with a trainer who is less than positive with people! I try to be the trainer who is just as positive with the people as I am with their dogs.
Well written posting! I was thinking that there is a lot to be said for positive reinforcement training for dogs and children. The atmosphere of love is so, so pleasant. It's just a smarter way to do justa about everything.
We agree. Positive training is always the best solution!
I completely agree that positive reinforcement is an advancement. When we got Maggie, we were not that educated about training methods and bought into The Dog Whisperer. Using those dominance-based methods are very likely a major factor as to why Maggie developed agression issues later on. Now we are using positive reinforcement to fix what we caused. I guess you live and learn!
Very good post!
I think that 100% purely positive training can be just as damaging as 100% negative reinforcement. I believe it's important to find a balance. I would estimate I use between 90 to 95% positive reinforcement.
One of the biggest purposes of my training is to keep things fair to Layla, which I'm happy to say I have been able to do.
Dropping off some Sunday woofs & hugs! <3
~Bailey (Yep, I'm a girl!)
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