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“There is a Better Way . . . Find it!”

Posted on 04/01/10 33 Comments

Everyone who does it, can sight (what they feel is) a valid reason for using positive (often physical) punishment in their dog training.   Many avenues of dog training still justify their choice of using physical punishment but claiming it is necessary. The truth is everyone that uses physical punishment must absolutely buy into the thought that the punishment is a necessity. Basically we are all dog lovers right? So why would anyone who loves their dog cause anxiety or pain to that dog if they didn’t feel it was 100% necessary. Their instructor has convinced them of this fact and tradition has many people still punishing.

For me the quote “Violence begins where knowledge ends” sums it all up. Most of us wouldn’t train a dog to weave using a baseball bat or a shock collar would we?  Why not? Because we now have the knowledge within us to know how to create understanding in the dog with more peaceful, harmonious and more effective methods. Anyone still using positive punishment in their dog training, be it as seemingly benign as verbally correcting a dog for knocking a bar or using a shock collar to teach a field dog to bring back a bird,  is doing it because they lack the knowledge to teach what they want any way else. To quote Thomas Edison “There is a better way, find it.”

I can say with a great deal of conviction, regardless of what sport I participated in with my dog, positive punishment would not be a part of my training. When I first started agility I was told that all Border Collies needed to be physically corrected if they exited the weave poles before finishing. When I suggested it wasn’t necessary (this was on a dog agility forum back in the early ’90’s) I was told what I was suggesting may work for me because I was an unusually good dog trainer but that the rest of the world must use physical punishment. The fallout of that punishment was that many dogs slowed down as they approached poles 10, 11 & 12 in their weaving. Unnecessary and today (I hope) few if any would collar correct their dog when teaching him to weave.

Whatever you are struggling to teach, if someone suggests the electric shock is practically harmless but necessary, don’t believe them as neither is true. I am encouraging anyone that is reading this to examine all of your training from getting the dog to stop barking at the mailman to teaching a better flank in herding. Are you using reinforcement to the best of your ability? There is a better way, find it!

Ok, to lighten the moment. This video is hysterical, I mean really funny. It is Charlie Murphy, Eddie Murphy’s older brother. It is funny, however it comes with a WARNING. It is filled with very off colour language. I know I get readers of all ages to my blog so I want to post the disclaimer that there are a lot of “F”-bombs” in this clip. The fact that I mention it is some what ironic since I used to have a pretty bad potty mouth myself. It has been some years since I decided to change my own langauge and although I don’t judge others for their dictation, I feel I should warn everyone about this clip.

However the skit itself carries a powerful message that I think needs to be heard. It is funny but pointed. Enjoy.

Today I am grateful for the popularity relationship based dog training.


  1. Carol Morgan says:
    Tuesday, March 22, 2016 at 9:55am

    Thanks for posting this Susan. Such an important message, coming from one of the most successful dog competitors ever…thank you!


  2. Debbie says:
    Tuesday, April 27, 2010 at 10:46pm

    Positive doesn’t mean permissive. I have a 21 month old Border Collie who would be labled as Autistic if he were a child. He is super sensitive to sights, sounds & motion. He is a very intense, hard dog with a dominate personality. I can’t tell you how frustrated I was in his first year because using 100% clicker training wasn’t working on him. It wasn’t until I could interrupt his temper tantrums that I could start to get through to him. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t use force, I’ve practiced being firm (not mean or mad) the dogs know the difference. Every dog is different & they each have unique needs. I trained all the Focus games with him, shaped him (had great success with the crate games) finally got him to want to work with me, this dog wasn’t motivated to work for food or toys, he made me work hard. The turning point in our relationship was when I set the boundaries. I think it makes all the difference in the attitude & intention we use when handling our dogs. They KNOW what we know or don’t know. I am finally seeing the partnership that I had hoped to have with my dog when I first got him, it has taken almost 2 yrs. of training. He may be 5 yrs. old before I can actually take him to agility trials & that is ok. or he may decide that sheep herding is what he was born to do. It is more about the relationship for me then winning titles even though I got him to be my agility partner.
    We need to observe our dogs as individuals & be the best we can be for them and making sure they have happy balanced lives.


  3. Jenny Ruth Yasi says:
    Tuesday, April 27, 2010 at 7:33pm

    May I add a post script, thank you to everyone for your civility. Punishment is such a difficult consequence to control, and we all have issues of denial. I love Ruff Love, but controlling reinforcements can inadvertently being punishing behaviors, or punishing potential behaviors that we might not intend. So I know that all punishment is dangerous. A shock collar isn’t necessarily better or worse than a choke or jerk on even a flat collar. I don’t want to write a book defending my imperfect attitude in front of Susan Garrett! No I wouldn’t dare! But I have to say that my dog has become so much more confident, because now she trusts me MORE. She really wants to know my opinion on what’s up! My husband says, “It looks like she grew a brain cell.”

    I am not advocating for la-dee-da use of shock collars. When I used this with Tigerlily, it felt very much like preparing for surgery. I don’t like it when veterinarians give my dogs vaccines, I don’t like it when I hear a yelp of pain when they play too rough, and my aim is always to reduce suffering as much as possible. I don’t want to promote it, but the truth is, Tigerlily didn’t act crushed and defeated. She acted like, “Ah ha!” More information is good, even when it hurts a little.


  4. Jenny Ruth Yasi says:
    Tuesday, April 27, 2010 at 6:27pm

    Hysterical comic! Excellent!

    I think one of the best kept secrets in positive dog training is punishment. It’s so well-kept that trainers keep it a secret from themselves! 90% of punishment seems to happen accidentally and the rest of it often seems to happen incorrectly. Very hard to really target punishment on a problem behavior and too often it lands on behaviors (trusting behaviors) we really want to cultivate.

    BUT we do learn something when we make mistake (negative punishment), or we experience a failure or when we stub our toe or bump our head (positive punishment). Every dog is unique. I have seen situations where dogs really don’t understand “danger,” their genetic drives can’t be fooled and there are life or death reasons why they need to learn “danger!” In certain circumstances (and I never thought I would be the sort of person who would argue this point) with certain highly prey-driven, prey-aroused, obsessed dogs (and I personally have never seen a border collie come CLOSE to being this sort of prey-obsessed dog), there can be a value to teaching the dog the meaning of a cue that means “danger! turn back!” In that rare situation, I would rather have my dog get a badly stubbed toe (a shock could feel that strong) than have the dog gleefully blast off after a deer or a squirrel and get hit by a car and killed.

    It’s easy to train dogs not to chase after cars, as we can control that distraction incrementally, we can have dog get hit by wheelbarrows, we can control the stimulus and practice as our husbands drive back and forth. It’s not so easy to control squirrel stimuli. I’ve done lots of premack, I’ve experimented with lots of ideas, and the bottom line is the matching theory. You need to be able to match all the reinforcement in the environment in order to condition a cue. With squirrels sometimes the only way to honestly match that reinforcement is to help the dog decide that it’s not as much fun as he imagined. If dogs don’t satiate from squirrel chasing, but find it the very best reinforcement available, and if the human really can’t match that reinforcement, then a stubbed toe ( a not-extreme shock) can help the dog decide for himself that playing tug really is a lot more interesting.

    I agree that electric collars are misused way too much. I can’t agree that there is *always* a better way, but usually, yes. I am right now working with a client who (incorrectly) used a shock collar in a young green dog, and now the (confused) dog still chases squirrels and their bond is damaged. We do need to teach our dogs to trust us, as otherwise dogs aren’t going to fully dare to express their intelligence and opinions, and unless the dog trusts us, the dog won’t follow our advice.

    But I don’t want to see shock collars banned in the US as they are in Wales, because sometimes, they can provide life or death information to a dog that is impossible to clearly communicate in any other way. With my Tigerlily, who was really squirrel obsessed for four years, and it kept getting worse as she managed to collect escape and blast-off opportunities (in an ideal “ruff love” world we prevent all escapes, but my world wasn’t ideal, no matter how I tried) one apparently not traumatic experience with a shock collar gave her really important information! It made her trust me more than ever. (“OH! NOW I know why you didn’t want me to blast off.”) Letting her discover some danger was much less damaging to our bond than me holding her leash, trying to move her away from moving squirrels as she prey screamed and pined.


  5. M says:
    Monday, April 12, 2010 at 8:24pm

    Thanks for calling out this televised method (scares me to think about how people use such methods at home)…..

    And as your post says, there is a better way FIND IT! For all those folks I have seen punish their pup on the way out of an agility ring, it makes my heart hurt and my stomach ache, please find another way to have relationship with your canine companion.

    Please, please, look for another way!


  6. Val & Bob Rutledge says:
    Sunday, April 11, 2010 at 9:00pm

    OMG that was so funny, we both laughed and oh so true.
    Thanks & Great article.


  7. Sharon Normandin says:
    Sunday, April 11, 2010 at 7:14pm

    Thanks to Deb Bogart to following through and correcting the misinformation that she received about Spy, and to Sue Waite for sharing the true story from the horse’s mouth. Sue, I was getting teary eyed reading your post, and shame on the people who were telling others that your issues arose from use of a shock collar.


  8. Sue Waite says:
    Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 1:59pm

    I am the owner, teacher, partner and best friend of the Rottweiler, MACH6 Nordike’s The Spy Who Loves ME, UD, FX, RN. I would like to set some records straight about my dog and my training methods.
    First of all, she is 8 QQ’s into her MACH7 with all the speed points needed. That 8th QQ was last weekend.
    Although The Spy Child was in a league of her own as a pup and growing up, (Wrote a book about the experience, she was so “over the top” in enthusiasm and imagination). My methods for teaching her were all positive motivation, using food to shape the pieces and parts of the exercises, but her motivation was to get the big, “Yes!” from me and for me to continue to play games with her.
    She’s always been a sponge for knowledge and because everything we’ve done has been one big game to her, she hated it when we had to stop. Feeling sorry for her, I added a game of ball retrieving to the end of our training sessions.
    I don’t bring food or toys with me to the agility ring. Spy doesn’t need any incentive to play the game of agility. Normally, she can barely hold a start line stay she wants to run the course so badly. I don’t bring any food at all, but I do bring her favorite ball and we play some retrieving at her crate before I put her away.
    On to the next misconception. Shock collars. Never owned one, never put one on any dog of mine and never even held one in my hand. Don’t know how to use one and don’t really care to know. Never had a use for one and quite frankly, I think of myself as a good enough trainer that I can’t fathom ever needing one. Wouldn’t go there if I did.
    Next is the dog walk issue. As most of you know if you’ve competed in agility for any length of time, some dog walks can be shaky or wobbly. Unfortunately, Spy has been on some of that equipment in the past several months at trials and it has shaken her confidence in the equipment. Not in herself and her abilities, not that she fell off of anything, not in her relationship with me. What I regret is, I didn’t have the Judges check the dog walk before her run and that I wasn’t aware and in tune that it was rattling her cage with every run.
    Actually, I was quite happy with the equipment in Syracuse. The DW was sturdy and LOVED the rubber footing. I hoped that four days running on good equipment might convince her that dog walks will be sturdy from now on.
    Lastly, I’ll tell you what really happened on that run. The only thing that’s been told that was correct is, the course did start out with a tire to the DW. I lead out 1/2 way to the DW with the intention of allowing Spy to run a little ahead of me to get up on the DW so I would be pushing from behind. For the first time in her life, Spy just sat there on the start line, not wanting to begin. She knew I would be asking her to go up that thing. I called her again. That’s when the ears went down and her whole body drooped. At that moment, I knew I had to change gears immediately so I reached into my bag of top motivators and began to chant as I squatted down a bit and got a big grin on my face, “Ready……Ready….Ready……GO!” I didn’t stop saying Ready until I saw that little girls eyes light back up, ears perk, and that, “I’m gunna break this start line stay if you keep that up” look. That’s when the Go came. She was strong on the jump and was good to go until she actually got all 4 feet on the DW. I praised her, stayed with her and the communication between us was, “I’m right here beside you, Spy. If anything happens, I’ll catch you. We’re a team and I’ve never been more proud of you”.
    And pride I do have for my little Spy Child. It was one of the bravest things I’ve ever seen a dog do. You’ll have to ask Spy exactly what gave her the courage to get up on that walk, but I’d like to think it was her love of dancing with me and the dog walk is part of the dance.
    Her best run was the last of the weekend. She had only a slight hesitation getting on the DW and trotted over the top and down the other side like her old self.
    I’ll be taking her to a local training center and putting the DW all the way down, flat onto the floor. When that isn’t an issue, I’ll raise it up onto milk crates, then a bit higher. If we reach a height that she gets uncomfortable with, I’ll drop it back down to the level she liked and let her run that a few times before I raise it up a wee bit.
    We WILL work this out. This is a dog who has such good balance, she would jump off the arm of a chair onto the back of my big boy, Otis and go for a ride yelling, “Yippy Ty Yay Yea!” at 9 weeks old.
    Thank you for allowing me to set some records and facts straight. I’m an open book to my training methods because I don’t train or work her at home and haven’t gone to an agility class for the past 3 years. What you see in the ring IS where we train. The rest of the time, Spy is happy keeping my house in order and telling everyone what to do and how high she wants you to jump. She’s got two adults and her daughter, Kaper wrapped around her little paw.

    Sue Waite
    Author, “Too Much Dog!”
    Too Much Dog.com
    Owned by The Spy Child
    One thing I love about agility is, it’s taught me to embrace Plan B in a nanosecond. If I take the time to worry, she’s already gone off course.


  9. Deb Bogart says:
    Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 9:34am

    I would like to make a correction to the post I made yesterday. I was misinformed about the Rottie. It was actually a MACH 6 Rottie working towards its MACH 7 and a shock collar was never used on the dog. It had a very nasty fall off the dog walk and the owner is working very diligently with positive methods only to get the dog over its new fear of the dog walk. I typically don’t post without evidence and 6 different people told me the shock collar version of the story therefore I assumed it was accurate. I apologize for the misinformation. A person once told me “If you assume you make an ass out of yourself.” Well, I guess they were right.


  10. michael gooch says:
    Tuesday, April 6, 2010 at 7:42am



  11. michael gooch says:
    Tuesday, April 6, 2010 at 7:12am

    “Violence begins where knowledge ends”. This rings so true, in so many aspects of our lives.


  12. Sharon Normandin says:
    Monday, April 5, 2010 at 9:15pm

    Something else I thought of regarding the remark about methods working for you because you are an unusually good dog trainer, but the rest of the world should be relegated to using physical punishment. What a defeatist attitude! How about teaching the rest of the world to be good dog trainers, which is what you as well as several other brilliant trainers endeavor to do with seminars, books and classes. Bring us all up to your level; we may not reach it, but at least making the effort will be an improvement.


  13. Sharon Normandin says:
    Monday, April 5, 2010 at 9:05pm

    “I was told what I was suggesting may work for me because I was an unusually good dog trainer but that the rest of the world must use physical punishment.”

    Susan, this comment from your blog reminds me of a statement made by George Morris, one of the top trainers of hunters and jumpers in the equestrian sport world, on the use of draw reins; draw reins are a tool that can assist in getting a horse to be “round”, although used inefficiently or improperly will often only create an appearance of roundness through the neck. Mr. Morris basically said that in the hands of anyone other than an expert, draw reins were a disaster, and an expert didn’t need them to achieve his goal. I’ve often felt one can substitute “prong collars” for draw reins, or for that matter, any physical correction.


  14. Devora Locke says:
    Monday, April 5, 2010 at 8:20pm

    Thank you for posting the clip, writing another excellent blog post, and by combining them, taking a strong stand on a certain new and disturbing dog training trend made popular by (ugh) TV.

    I thought the following was an interesting article. “Aggression As Rewarding As Sex, Food And Drugs, New Research Shows” http://www.sciencedaily.com
    I’ve long suspected that punishment is self-gratifying, and aggression in a training scenario would be the trainer punishing the dog. People continue to think punishment works because it feels good to them to be the punisher. 🙁


  15. Deb Bogart says:
    Monday, April 5, 2010 at 5:33pm

    I have been way behind on reading your blog but the timing always seems to be perfect when I finally get to it. At a trial over the weekend I saw a Rottie terrified to leave the start line in the Excellent B Standard Class. The first 2 obstacles of the course were the tire then dog walk. While I was gate stewarding I overheard her friends say they really hoped he would go up the dog walk because of what happened the last time he did it and that he was traumatized. Well…being the curious person I am I apologized for overhearing but asked what happened. Without being told the whole story or how it was used, it seems this MACH 7 dog’s dog walk performance wasn’t as good at is use to be so the handler thought she would retrain it with the use of a shock collar. I cringed and used all of my control not to start yelling. This poor dog sat shaking at the line for a little over 30 seconds while the handler kept releasing it (surprised the judge didn’t whistle them off), then when the dog reluctantly left the line and did the tire it had to to coaxed up the walk. This took about 20 seconds and the entire walk was shaking. It finally went up the walk and finished the course. I felt so sorry for this dog and just wanted to slap the handler. I just want to know why people are so stupid sometimes. I am going to post this blog entry link to my FB page and remind people that there is always a better way.


  16. Mary Jo says:
    Saturday, April 3, 2010 at 4:25pm

    We have much the same issue when doing herding work. A lot of trainers still use some kind of punishment (not necessarily striking the dog although I have seen that used when all else fails, but usually banging the ground, yelling or other methods of scaring the dog back off the stock). Particularly when working new dogs that are just so turned on being around stock that they won’t respond to anything else. We can control the situation fairly easily and not have to use such methods of intimidation (my shelties tend to be soft enough that I can just physically block them off the sheep), but I think a lot of people don’t see anything wrong with it, particularly when in high drive situations, most dogs don’t tend to show the same reaction to corrections as they do in lesser situations (like obedience work). I think that’s one of the reasons it’s so hard to change the mentality, it can be hard to argue about corrections being “bad” when the dog is still highly motivated to work . People *see* how much better the dog works in something like obedience when trained without corrections. I’m not sure in these kinds of situations people would see enough of a difference to make a change in training methods. We certainly see how challenging it often is for people to become *good* clicker trainers, in my experience they really have to be motivated to make that change and just as often or not, that reason is to improve the dog’s performance. I’m not sure the argument about it just being “nicer” to the dog would convince trainers that are stuck in a rut of using corrections…when it works for them, they get good results with it, and it’s what they know.


  17. Lynnda L in Minneapolis says:
    Friday, April 2, 2010 at 11:49pm

    DianeB wrote:

    “The main difficulty with field training is that the birds (at least for pointers/spaniels/retrievers) are more rewarding than anything I can provide – and there is no way to fully control the rewards.”

    No shame in long lines in the field to prevent self-rewarding.

    I don’t know where Susan says it but she says to the effect that if you are going to train a dog without punishment, you need to control the reinforcements for the dog. [Probably that’s in “Ruff Love”.]

    Yes, in field/hunting work there is a huge genetic propensity at work — the birds are intrinsically reinforcing for the dogs. Trainers have been using this attraction for eons. And they understand that the dog needs to have self-control to do this work for people. People have been training dogs to hunt — and bring back the shot bird — for centuries, all with out shock collars.

    There are many factors as to why punishment is used so extensively now a days in field work. But we need to lay a solid foundation of self-control for our hunting dogs and take the training step-by-step — there are no short cuts. [Training buddies are invaluable.]
    I’ll stop now. PS: My EC Spaniel is only 2 years old but I already know about self-rewarding in the field….


  18. Kathy says:
    Friday, April 2, 2010 at 8:47pm

    DianeB wrote:

    “The main difficulty with field training is that the birds (at least for pointers/spaniels/retrievers) are more rewarding than anything I can provide – and there is no way to fully control the rewards.”

    Exactly. Susan says in Shaping Success that in order to train with positive reinforcement, you must be able to provide rewards that are of higher value than the activity the dog is doing. I don’t understand how you can do this with field work.


  19. Michelle says:
    Friday, April 2, 2010 at 1:25pm

    Watched the video last night and cracked up, that was funny, thanks


  20. DianeB says:
    Friday, April 2, 2010 at 11:27am

    What type of field work? The yahoo group PositiveGunDogs has some good discussion on field training – mostly on retrievers. The main difficulty with field training is that the birds (at least for pointers/spaniels/retrievers) are more rewarding than anything I can provide – and there is no way to fully control the rewards.

    For pointers, I’m still struggling to figure things out. I agree with the “Violence begins where knowledge ends” – I have not found the better way and I have not found anyone to teach me the way either – to be purely positive in training pointers for field trials.


  21. Sally Jones says:
    Friday, April 2, 2010 at 5:17am

    Agree with everything you say Susan (and I LOVE the clip). This comment is for Kathy who wanted to know about using your methods for field work. Our school teaches gundog work with positive reinforcement and can thoroughly recommend the book ‘The Clicker Gundog’ by Helen Phillips. And yes, Crate Games is universally applicable!


  22. Diane says:
    Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 11:29pm

    Loved the video!!!!!!!!!


  23. Misa says:
    Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 11:09pm

    Susan M – I spent time on that site too and I had to stop. For me, it became a huge waste of energy, though initially it was important for me to see what was going on out there in terms of people giving each other well-meant advice. What a hideous mess – how can people keep it all straight? I’m glad that positive trainers are still trying on YA, but I prefer to channel my energy and all that I’ve learned here into my classroom of family dog training students. They hear a lot of very bad advice and I’m lucky to be in a position to answer to it.
    It is disheartening to hear punishment-based advice in an Agility setting. Thank you very much, Susan, for posting this.


  24. Susan Mann says:
    Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 5:40pm

    I still find it a constant source of amazement that people are willing to hurt their dogs in the name of competition. I can understand the person who puts a shock collar on his dog because the dog needs a solid recall and that is the only way he thinks he can get it (I disagree, of course, but I can understand it.) What I can’t understand is how someone can do that to get a competitive edge (and of course, I’m totally with you that there are alternate ways.) This, to me, shows a lack of respect for the animal, treating it merely as a tool. I’ve been on Yahoo Answers dog section a lot recently, answering training questions, and so am exposed to a lot of what the non-training public, and the Koehler and shock collar trainers advise and do. Not only do they not “get” positive reinforcement training, they aren’t willing to get it, and I believe for much the same reason you mention- if they could agree that positive reinforcement training works, why wouldn’t they be using it, as we all love our dogs. Fortunately, I can remember back to when I (reluctantly) put a prong collar on my pointer mix because I was advised by many people that it was the only way (I got him as an adult with a lot of issues, and his neck was red from constantly pulling -hard- on the leash). This was in the days before GLs and Haltis and front-snap halters, and before I’d heard of clicker training, when the only books I had to read on dog training (and I read everything I could get my hands on) came from the Monks of New Skete, and Wynn Strickland and the woman who wrote Mother Knows Best (or some such title, I forget her name now!) I still get teary eyed, thinking about how I trained him, or didn’t train him because I didn’t like what I was doing to him. He took to clicker training very well in his later life, and is one of the main reasons I was so ready for it when I got Brodie. So I understand the guilt that people aren’t willing to feel, so I keep plugging away answering the questions about clicker training, or training in general, and hearing constantly that “you can’t get reliability without physical corrections” in spite of all sorts of examples to the contrary.

    I too love the expression you cited “violence begins where knowledge ends” (I believe it is a quote from Abraham Lincoln) and the more I learn, the less I want to correct my dog. As knowledge about dog behavior and emotions and communication becomes available and widely disseminated, I hope people will start paying more attention to what their dogs are saying about the training methods they are using, as well as what is happening from the dog’s point of view when something fails (or is sucessful!) I remember very clearly an agility training class years and years ago with Brodie, who overran his DW contact in the sequence. He had fabulous contacts (not much else, but those he had!) and we had done some proofing. The instructor made the comment that he was “blowing me off” and I was absolutely flabbergasted. Fortunately, all I did was stop and then continue. I still don’t know what happened to cause him to overrun that contact, but considering how little I knew then, I’m sure there’s something we didn’t consider other than “blowing me off!” We did a training session a week or so later where I tried to get him to overrun, and couldn’t – and I swear he was laughing when we worked on it, he would grin at me and I’d see a bubble over his head saying “you can’t make me!” and I was hooked- you can’t get that kind of relationship and trust by inflicting pain- physical or emotional- on our “best friends.”


  25. Shelly says:
    Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 4:48pm

    here’s another parody of dear old Cesar



  26. Michelle says:
    Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 12:34pm

    Good timing of this blog, sorry cant watch the video right now but I will.
    My dog just earned two legs on her CDX on the weekend. We didnt place but I watched a video my friend taped of us. I was really happy to see how well and how happy she worked. She lost points at the start, I guess passing the leash distracted her at the start, I train alone alot so dont do that. Today in training I had my virtual friend there that I passed the leash too!! I am not a perfect trainer for sure but my intent is to be as positive and to teach my dog as well as I can. I realized from the trials though that I am a “lurer”, for shame. I have come clean and I can see the understanding in her already. She loves to be released to her treat, either on a chair or doing crate games. Unfortunately many of the winners use “positive punishment” and e-collars. Their dogs do not display fear, shyness or any negative behaviours from this. They work at a top level and their owners consistently do well in the ring. Not all the top winners are painted with this brush but there are many. I hope that as I become a better trainer and learn to build drive and enthusiasm to work with me that the proof will be in the pudding. I stay away from unsolicited conversations on training methods normally because there are some strong views out there and I am working on the pudding right now !!! A big ribbon painted with the wrong brush is not worth having to me.


  27. Kathy says:
    Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 11:58am

    What a timely post for me-I’m just looking into field work with my dog. One of my questions for you when I come up for camp, is can I teach him field work using your program?
    I’ve had great results using crate games to get him to wait while I throw a bumper, so I’m thinking there’s hope for the rest of it…


  28. Cindy says:
    Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 11:51am

    As I am currently dealing with a dog who now exhibits low stress in the agility ring (blows me off to go sniffing), I find myself very frustrated. Having said that, I am searching for any other way other than the physical to correct this problem that I must have somehow created in this dog. I have been telling him to sniff, and reward with a yes/treat when he does so. After a few repetitions, he gets the idea and stops sniffing. I admit, I almost fell back to my old ways, getting ready to yell at him, and watch him not return to me. I am working hard on giving up those old ways and using reinforcement as much as possible.
    Thank you for your blogs – it’s because of available information such as this that trainers like me can change training methods to better our relationships with our canine companions.


  29. Russ says:
    Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 11:36am

    Here was my problem. All I knew of dog training was from the television or books. In the real world when I saw well behaved dogs off leash, I’d ask the owners what kind of training they did; they all responded that it was some form of positive punishment type training.

    Conversely, when I’d see out of control dogs, the owners most always were clicking and throwing meat-bits around to just get their dogs attention.

    I made the judgment that I wanted a dog that was more like what the positive punishment trainers produced. But the main problem I had with positive punishment training wasn’t the techniques; it was my shivering, tail-tucked dog the techniques were producing.

    I guess my main point is if the majority of trainers of positive reinforcement dog training were following your methods, this dog training debate would be over in a flash.


  30. Urska says:
    Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 10:14am

    Thank you for this post! No matter how many positive reinforcement trainers are around, I still keep bumping into those who believe in physical corrections and I have trouble explaining them I’d like to do things differently.

    “There is a better way… find it!” Thanks for this inspiration!


  31. Rebecca says:
    Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 8:10am

    Comedy is a powerful tool.


  32. Melissa Davis says:
    Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 8:01am

    Your post was so well written and well said. It is great to find others that feel the same way!


  33. Trudie says:
    Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 7:37am

    Sounds like an “education” class I dropped out of ! Except they haven’t twigged on to the “whisper” part ! The more emphatically negative you are, making your voice as loud and truly mean as possible in order for the (hard of hearing?) dog to get the point, the more you assert your position as leader of the pack !

    My dog constantly scans the environment and I’m trying to build value for relaxing, it is not easy but it has forced me to learn to be in focus with my dog at all times. I’m so incredibly proud of my dog when he turns to look me in the eye !!


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