To choose a dog trainer or an animal behaviorist is to choose an educative method, which is not without significance!
I have chosen to learn and to use positive reinforcement for my personalized training programs.
Let me elaborate on this a bit more.
It is a nice thing to have a dog. Knowing how to educate her is a whole different story. If you believed it was an easy task, you now know (or will soon realize) that it is not necessarily the case.
Nowadays, thanks to the Internet, you have access to dozens of blogs, and hundreds of videos teaching you how to educate a puppy or dog, a double-edged sword.
You can quickly get lost in all this flow of sometimes contradictory information.
Methods often vary depending on the person writing the article or making the video.
Some succeeded in gathering a lot of attention, and are known across the globe, and not always for the well-being of our four-legged companions.
You have probably heard of Cesar Milan. Ultra mediatized in North America, his methods have gained attention across the pond and found many supporters in Europe. Years of experience, a humongous media budget, and results that you can showcase on the small screen. What else can you ask for?
How about that the experience has positive lasting results in the long term? That the methods respect the needs of our pets?
I will not put Cesar Milan on trial, but certainly his methods. It has to be constructive!
I know people who have been operating in the animal education field for decades, and who believed in those same methods even before the so called “Dog Whisperer” became famous and/or criticized.
I even got trained by some of these people.
Today they scream from the rooftops that the traditional methods based on concepts of dominance, hierarchy, pack, alpha dog, and advocating violence such as choke collars, hitting and shouting at dogs are not the right ways to educate the animals. There are techniques not rooted in fear and violence that can be deployed to obtain desired results.
We now know psychological trauma is terrible for dogs.
If dogs were not gripped by Stockholm syndrome, I believe most mistreated dogs would have abandoned their owner or responded with defensive bites.
It is scientifically proven that there are no alpha nor established hierarchy with dogs unlike with the wolves.
Hence, showing your authority and alpha status to your dogs by eating before them, putting them on choke collars, or shouting does not make any sense based on scientific findings.
These methods work 80% of the time because the animals quickly learn the consequences if they don’t obey. However, do they respect you? Would they follow your instructions without their leash and without you risking to lose your voice?
Without a doubt, you would be ashamed by what happens in their beautiful heads when they are mistreated.
Those who have tried both methods cannot deny that while some dogs might be extremely obedient, they are literally living a dog’s life.
There used to be no other alternatives. Being authoritarian was the only recognized and effective method.
Nowadays, we know better and can (must!) choose better!
It has been a while since positive reinforcement has made its way into the animal education world.
Let’s just think about how lions, rhinoceros, pandas and orcas are able to voluntarily go to their trainers to receive care (shots, dental care, etc. – not even to play).
The animals seem to enjoy it so much that they are begging for more 😉
Do you think physical strength has been used, or that the caretakers became the alpha figures of these large creatures who can easily snap them in two like twigs?
With a lot of patience, understanding of the animals’ psychology, observation, and positive reinforcement, results can be yielded rather rapidly!
The biggest difference between the two methods? The animal’s motivation.
In the traditional techniques, the animal is trying to avoid uncomfortable, scary and hurtful situations. With positive reinforcement, the animal seeks interactions and learning opportunities.
Would you prefer to work for a salary, or to avoid being hit?
When you put it that way, the decision is an easy one to make.
The results are visible and lasting. They show a real connection between the human being and the animal.
By opting for respectful methods, you are making the choice to reinforce the desired behaviors rather than the unwanted ones.
It is not only about giving treats to your dog!
It is a change that will help you in your everyday life, not only with your interactions with animals, believe me!
Please be reassured, it’s a fast acquired habit, and you will quickly see the transformation in your dog.
With a personalized program to help you understand how it works inside your dog’s head, you will become his kind and understanding best friend.
Your dog already loves you with your flaws, so what do you have to lose? (The answer is nothing, I promise).
You actually have a lot to gain!
Just like you would not jump on a lion and wrestle it into obedience, you shouldn’t physically force a dog to obey your commands such as preventing him from jumping on your guests.
Since these methods work for the Lion King, they should certainly work for Doggo!