Mixing Methodologies

Okay, I just love this photo of the “great white” from yesterday’s video, yes this is my special “DeeDog” girle “DeCaff.” She claims not guilty, I tend to believe her as all our dogs are just a product of what we know.

To follow up on yesterday’s blog post about the impact of “corrections” on relationships I would like to reply to a couple more comments from my recent webinar series on “Struggles in Dog Training

Janet Lewis who wrote:

I love the basic approach to YOUR style of training…and it makes a ton of sense. I am less enamored with your characterization of ‘traditional’ dog training…‘just say no, bad dog’, punish, correct. I am more of a middle ground and would ask you what is wrong with telling the puppy TWO things…‘do this’ and ’don’t do that’. I am not assuming any kind of non informational training…every time a do not is given, it is immediatly followed by a ‘do’, Sometimes ‘do not’s ’ can save a dog’s life.

Really I have two main reasons why I don’t suggest blending the “Do & Do not” in your dog training.

First of all having experimented with this 15 years ago with my own students what I found is that by giving people permission to mix both, you make it next to impossible to remove the innate instinct for people to punish. Yes they try to be positive but when frustrations hits — their instinct is to blame the dog.

“Violence begins where knowledge ends”

This great quote which is sometimes attributed to Abraham Lincoln but I first saw in Sheila Booth’s book “Purely Positive”, is clearly demonstrated at any busy fast food restaurant on a Friday night and in any “mixed” dog training philosophy when things aren’t going as planned. People can try to be positive but when they don’t know what to do they allow their irritation to bubble over into some sort of punitive act of aggression (regardless of how benign people believe it to be). More often then not, the dog trainer gets rewarded for their act — likely because of the shock value – the unsuspecting animal can no longer trust what may happen next so the stop what they are doing at that moment (but do not necessarily learn to not try it again).

The further along I get in dog training the more I realize that well planned and carefully executed dog training eliminates the need for “do not do this.”  If you follow  “Redirect – Manage – Fix”  with your struggles, you will find the need for “do not” pretty much is goes away.

The struggle comes when people try to jump from a traditional basis dog training to “Do-land” (where I DO  live with my dogs). There is a gap — they become paralyzed when the dog misbehaves. Their instincts tell them to physically correct the “guilty dog” but their heart tells them to stay in “Do-Land” and so in response to this struggle; they do nothing.

Doing nothing is not want I am suggesting either because “nothing” rewards the dog’s choice to choose incorrectly in the first place. I am not suggesting unwanted behaviours are allowed to continue until a time you can motivate a dog to make a better choice — because the reward value of performing the response will make it more than difficult to counter. For example if you want your dog NOT to bark at ringside while other dogs are running and your tactic is to stand at ringside and ignore the barking until it stops so you can reward it — you likely will have to wait until there are no more dogs in the ring. Very ineffective.

So here is a critical tip in bridging the gap between a world of corrections and Do-Land. When your dog starts an undesired behaviour you must

STOP THE REINFORCEMENT

Traditionally that may have happened with an “aaah aaah” but as my dogs are living proof of— that is not necessary. Not since 1994 (when I left the world combining of “Do and Do not”) has any dog I have ever raised her a heard a verbal correction. If you can accomplish amazing results without out it (which I somewhat biasly think my dogs are amazing pets and their performance accomplishments speak for themselves) so if you can have it all without the “do nots” why not come all the way over to “Do-Land?”

How about those of you out there, what was your “transition” like when you decided to come over to “Do-Land.” What is your relationships like with your dogs and what about your dog’s standard of performance. I am welcome all comments but am  particularly curious of those of you that have joined in the Say Yes program of dog training (which I, acknowledging an obvious bias, think perhaps is a more accurate representation of the practical applications of the science of dog training than some examples of a “positive” program).

Please when you leave your comments try not to be judgemental of other people or methods, rather just express the joy you have for the choices you have made for you and your dog in your training.

More to come, thanks to all for leaving thought provoking comments on the webinars.  In case you didn’t see my newsletter I sent out yesterday, I have a new plan! In response to the amazing comments on I have received,  I have decided to have these popular “Struggles in Dog Training” webinars transcribed and put into an ebook which I will give away to everyone that signs up for Puppy Peaks!

Today I am grateful for some cooler weather so I can get outside and train my dogs, have a great weekend everyone — I will be seeing some of you in Italy next week!

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