If you’re interested in continuing to follow my shenanigans and blurbs and rants on dogs, dog behaviour and the industry at large, go to my main Website and sign up for the Dogmanship Newsletter!
If you’re interested in continuing to follow my shenanigans and blurbs and rants on dogs, dog behaviour and the industry at large, go to my main Website and sign up for the Dogmanship Newsletter!
Off the heels of the MASSIVE success of my last article I’m Tired… and the new followers and subscribers this blog has… I’ve decided to………. move it all lol
When I started this blog, it was because the website builder I used didn’t have a blog function (that I knew of). As it happens, it does have a blog feature! And I’ve set up my new blog right on my main website
I’m not going to close this blog down anytime soon, but I also won’t be posting to much content on it now that I have the option to have a blog on my main site.
So for a little bit, I’ll be posting links to new posts here to make sure the folks following me know where to go to read my jiberish that for some reason people like to read…
Keep up with the new blog
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Professionally speaking… I’m tired. Tired of method wars, tired of justifying how I train dogs in an attempt to appease the masses, tired of watching other trainers make excuses for their ignorance in the name of science.
I’m just tired…
The propaganda is everywhere.
It truly makes me sad that trainers all over the world pit themselves against each other in the name of their cause when in reality we should all be learning from each other or, at the very least, acknowledging the difference in training approaches and simply choosing not to try and force view on other people. If you do this with anything else in life, you instantly loose credibility but for some reason, many trainers find this acceptable behaviour when it comes to their training approach.
Recently there’s been an article going around where a well known trainer is being called out on her views on a certain subject. I’m impressed how fast does articles like this make the rounds when it gets into the right hands. I’ve had this article pop up no less than a dozen times on my news feed from other trainers. I’m also surprised that anybody thinks an opinion piece, although well written, will change the mind off the masses. Your basically running around and showing that article to everybody who already agrees with you waiting for them so say “oh, that’s so well written!”.
At this point, I feel like a dad holding two battling toddlers are arms length getting ready to tell each of them why their reason for fighting and arguing is bullshit…
To Every Trainer… Regardless of what Camp You Belong To
I’m guessing you guys don’t all know this, but did you know that you can train dogs any way you want, day in and day out and when you hear of someone that does it differently just move on with your day instead of choosing to flap your face about it? Try it! It’s very liberating!
Regarding Cesar Milan The Dog Whisperer
Like him or hate him, understand he’s one of the prime reasons why people actively seek behaviour advice today. Many people used to think basic class at pet smart was end of the line. Because of Cesar’s show, people know better and Google accordingly. There’s been great dogmen and women around for decades, but nobody has effected the dog training world on such a mainstream level as Cesar Milan. Love him or hate him, 30% of your revenue at minimum is due to the impact of televised dog training shows which all started with the dog whisperer.
Do I agree with all of his methods? No. But he’s at least fighting the good fight by helping dogs and dog owners of the world.
Regarding BF Skinner’s quadrants of operant conditioning
Understand this was never tested on dogs and the quadrants themselves are not a complete representation of all learning and how it occurs. It is, at best, a great framework to understand how to influence a dog, but not the be all end all of learning.
Walk The Walk and Shut up
If you think you can do it better than shut up and do it! Stop lipping on online forums, Facebook groups and comment sections and get out and help the over 1 million dogs in shelters across the world with your alleged skills. Those dogs need help from a human they understand much more than the closed-minded keyboard commando needs his opinion on corrections or clickers changed.
Thousands of dogs TODAY have been surrendered to local shelters. Thousands of puppies today were born and will go to homes with owners who don’t have the knowledge level to keep them calm and balanced. Thousands of dogs today will be put down because of overcrowding in shelter systems…
Because someone does or doesn’t do something you believe in doesn’t give YOU the right to judge or condemn them. Just because someone does something different doesn’t make them wrong. I’ve been the recipient in my life of slander and prejudice. I have friends who are black that will tell you their fight for being treated fairly is nowhere near over. I have friends who, because of their sexual orientation, have been the recipient of physical beatings and emotional torment.
There’s so many things in our world that are worth having a voice for…so why do dog trainers waste their time bitching at each other?
Our goals should be the same!
The Line In The Sand
Do I think every dog trainer in the world is being ethical? No. I saw a video a few months back of another television trainer who collar lifted a dog and smacked him in the nose… so of course there is a line in the sand. I can also assure you that if I had witnessed this in person, you’re damn right I would have got in his face about it. But you can also bet money that I wouldn’t have said nothing and then went home to write a blog about it!
And by the way, while we’re on the subject, BOTH SIDES act unethically from time to time. Some balanced trainers utilize more force than is necessary in the name of “dominance” or “status” or even “obedience” when it can be achieved with less force than they use—the excuse of course being “the dog must learn to obey” or something to that effect. Positive trainers are also guilty of suggesting aggressive dogs be put to sleep before even seeking the help of a trainers who applies a balanced approach…
Is this statement a representation of EVERY TRAINER IN THAT CAMP?!?! NO!!!!!!!!
This is becoming like religious extremism! It’s cool to have your beliefs! I think everybody should believe in something. But when you take it to a point where you close your mind to possibilities… how do you EVER expect to grow?
Listen, if you have that much spare time in your training life to hop on your computer and run your mouth about how another trainer is wrong because they don’t agree with you, let me know and I’ll put you in touch with a shelter who needs qualified trainers to make dogs more adoptable in your area.
But until shelters have to close their doors because every dog is trained and none are getting surrendered… Shut up and train and stop caring about how others wish to do it.
We’re on the same damn team
There’s three things dog owners don’t do when it comes to discipline with their dogs… actually, it’s two things they don’t do, and one large misconception.
#1—Stop making empty threats
The biggest thing dog owners attempt to use with their dogs is what my mentor likes to call our primate desire to add “Or else” to the end of everything we say to our dogs.
Do this… or else
Stop doing that… or else
Dogs don’t have “or else” in their vocabulary.
Dog owners have a tendency to voice their frustrations, but not “act” on them. And don’t get me wrong, acting out of frustration is the wrong thing to do, but if most dog owners addressed poor behaviour when it started instead of letting it escalate, you wouldn’t be acting out of frustration. You’d be acting with a moderately level head because YOUR temper hasn’t escalated yet. For many dog owners, they think simply shouting a command or repeating the dog’s name is “discipline” or “addressing the behaviour” when in reality you haven’t done anything. (I state only these two and left out “use to much pressure” because that WILL effectively stop whatever poor behaviour is happening, but that’s not my desired approach, it’s unnecessary and meant for a different article).
I find myself saying this all the time now, but it bears repeating because we’ve lived with dogs for so long under a common misconception—dogs are much smarter than we give them credit for.
Let’s use an example:
Your dog likes barking out the window at random things (doesn’t matter what).
First thing, your dog goes to the window. He pushes the curtain aside with his nose and starts looking out the window. His head darts back and forth until he spots Lucky the Labradoodle across the way walking with his human, and that’s when it starts. A few soft wuffs here and there and this is when the human first enters the equation. Fluffy, no. says the human from the couch/kitchen/wherever they happen to be. The wuffs continue, starting to get louder and louder until their full on barks. The “no” from the human might have been repeated a few times as it normally is, but it’s not until the barking has reach an unbearable level where the human decides to act. It’s at this point that the human must match the dog’s determination and intensity in order to be ‘heard’ so to speak.
Here’s what most dog owners either don’t know, or constantly forget.
If your dog can get to the window, push the curtain open, stair outside until he finds something to spike his adrenaline up (most likely because he’s board, under-stimulated and in need of being worked), starts barking with no injection of the human (and at this level, saying ‘no’ is not enough) and you only start moving towards your dog—which in the dog’s eyes is the first sign he’s gone out of bounds—then he knows that’s how far he can take it before he needs to stop. This principle applies in many aspects of dog behaviour and can be used for many examples better than this one.
So why don’t humans act sooner? Well, that leads into the next thing. The big misconception of this article:
Punishment needs to be swift and harsh NOPE
Completely and utterly false. In fact, the sooner you act, the less pressure you ultimately should have to use.
Dog owners, most of the time, don’t act because they think punishing or implementing a disciplinary action requires them to be harsh and use a lot of pressure, so it’s reserved for when the dog’s behaviour reaches a point that it warrants the punishment in their head. Most of the time by the way, the punishment is shouting or using intense spatial pressure.
To follow the same example, here’s how I would address this issue:
First, I would examine if I had dropped the ball with the dog today by not working his mind and body and if he’s simply searching for a reason to create drama out of boredom. This happens to be the case for many dogs. The reason for this is, if I simply address the behaviour without addressing the underlying cause (in this case, possible boredom and under-stimulation), then the dog will simply stop engaging in that behaviour and substitute it for a new one that might not get him into trouble if you can’t see it or something you find more acceptable, for instance, going nuts on a chew toy.
Next, I would address the behaviour the moment the thought of engaging in the behaviour enters the dog’s mind. So if I’m watching tv and my dog is pacing around the room and I see him fix his gaze on the picture window/door or whatever the case may be, that’s my moment to act. At this point, the ‘punishment’ for this behaviour can be quite soft because the dog hasn’t worked himself up into a frenzy and I can still get through to him with subtly. But the more he adrenalizes, the more pressure I ultimately have to use or the longer I must apply more subtle pressure.
My ‘punishment’ at this point is simply making it hard for the dog to engage in the behaviour in the first place. So I’ll use spatial pressure to move him away from the space in front of the window. I’ll continue to do this until he chooses to do something else, or, use an obedience command to redirect him if he has a solid foundation in obedience (which is my goal to achieve before really addressing this type of stuff. As a rule, I’d much rather tell a dog ‘do this’ instead of ‘don’t do that’ if possible).
In the event that the behaviour escalates and he ignores my ‘subtly’, then I must work up in intensity to get my point across.
The whole point is simply to make it hard for the dog to engage in the behaviour. The most important part to this is consistency.
#3—The Importance Of Consistency
I give my clients a 90 day rule for consistency with bad behaviour. It’s your job to stay on top of the training for 90 days and your goal is to ensure their is a consequence for engaging in the poor behaviour in question every time. Climb up the ladder of escalation as needed based on the information the dog is giving you. What many find is, it doesn’t take a whole 90 days to cure most problems. If you have the mindset of consistency, you’ll address it every time and make the learning process much easier on your dog.
Here’s what happens when consistency fails (or when members of the household are inconsistent with the dog).
Again, revisiting the point that dogs are smarter than we give them credit for. If you only institute a consequence under certain conditions then the dog will only avoid engaging in the behaviour under certain conditions. So if you are trying to stop a problematic behaviour but your roommate/boyfriend/girlfriend/parents allow it to continue, there’s still hope in abolishing it, but it’s going to take much longer and be more stressful for the dog to grasp what’s being asked of him.
Much the same, your dog can easily learn that obedience is only meant for the house and your surrounding neighborhood if you don’t work him in new locations to show him obedience is the rule for behaviour no matter where you go.
Dogs have the heart of a gambler. If that slot machine pays out 1 out of 1000 times, they’ll come back for more. Don’t misconstrue that to mean if you allow a problem behaviour to happen once then you’ll never teach your dog not to do it. It just means the less that machine pays out, the less they’ll try and win.
Most problem behaviours vanish once two things are added into the dog’s life
1. Good training that targets the dog’s needs (be it calming, disciplinary or fulfillment driven applications)
2. Clear and consistent communication that things are either good or bad ( both are required to create contrast which helps the dog learn faster)
It’s important to note, the example above actually isn’t how I would handle a dog with this specific problem. It is simply used as a for instance to make the point of the three things most dog owners do.
If you are experiencing problems with your dog, visit http://www.wadesdogmanship.com today ask about my All-In-One approach to dog training and how it can help you have the relationship with your dog that you’ve always wanted.
I’ve met every range of person when it comes to dogs and dog training. Some believe training isn’t “necessary” and the 4 dogs they had before the one with aggression I got called for “never had any obedience training”. These folks often live in the country and allow their dogs to roam free so their need for leash manners and a good recall is actually pretty low. On the other end of the spectrum is the owner who wants their dog to do it all. These folks start with basics, then get a driving hunger to learn all that is dog training. There’s nothing inherently wrong with either of these folks, but they both in the same sense could cause problems with their dog for different reasons.
The reason I give this example is because I view training a little differently than most trainers, let alone average pet owners. I believe their are life skills a dog must posses in order to get by in our world. The thing is, these skills can be hidden within proper obedience training, so for some, it pushes them away from ever teaching their dog. These life skills teach your dog about his world, and once he has a clear understanding of how to navigate these situations, he’ll live a happier life in our twisted, confusing human world.
Life Skill #1—Yielding To All Kinds Of Pressure
This is a broad stroke, but it’s all tied together. My simpler version of this at one time was just “Accept guidance from the leash”, but I have expanded it to include other types of guiding pressure that goes beyond the leash. A dog who knows to go-with-the-flow so to speak is a dog who knows how to get along. This can be seen when I do leash work drills with my own dogs. They only require fingertip amounts of leash pressure in a certain direction to understand where I need them. This gives me a large amount of control over where they are and really helps me when navigating busy streets or crowded areas with them. They’ve learned pressure can be a good thing—it gives them vital information about their world and what I need from them. This holds true for other types of pressure too, such as spatial pressure (moving into the space your dog is currently occupying to get him to move) and different types of physical pressure. A dog who learns to give to pressure is a dog who is less confused when he feels it. This creates a language of communication many dog/human teams never take the time to learn.
Here’s a great example of a drill I give my reactive dog clients. This drill is meant to do two things. 1) It helps the human learn to be soft with the leash and focus on feel to release the pressure 2) It creates space for a nervous dog while putting you in between the stressor and the dog. This creates trust in the handler to handle potential conflicts.
Life Skill #2—Remaining Calm (or at least quiet) In a Crate Or Kennel
This is something that still meets contention in the dog owner world, and I’m not quite sure why. Many separation anxiety cases I get called to have one thing in common. They don’t crate their dog. Not only that, the similarities go a step further. They don’t do it ANYMORE. Almost all of them at one time or another tried crating their dog, but because the dog threw such a fit, they abandoned the idea all together because they didn’t want the dog to do damage to itself.
This is a completely reasonable train of thought. Why would I want to stuff my pup into an enclosed space knowing he’s going to freak, claw and bite at it to the point he could actually sustain injury?
Well, the first problem lies in the perception that crating a dog for long periods is cruel, and the next lies in application.
Dogs are known to be “den dwellers”. Meaning they like the comfort of small enclosed spaces. If your dog is particularly twitchy about the world, a crate can provide a sense of safety. I even encourage my clients who are expectant mothers to crate-train as part of pre-baby protocols. Why? Because when that dog has had enough of the child, he needs a place to go that’s all his own, away from human contact so he can just decompress. If you’ve ever met (or are) an introverted person, you’ll know this feeling.
But the biggest reason I hear for dogs not being crate training (besides the above mentioned) is “There’s always someone home” or “The dog is always with me”.
By the way, that’s awesome. I love hearing that one of my clients gets to spend the vast majority of his time with his dog so long as it doesn’t cause a ton of stress in the dog’s life (sometimes your dog needs a break from you too!).
What happens if your dog needs to go to the vet for surgery and he needs to stay overnight? Unless you have the coolest vet in the world, there’s a good chance Fido isn’t sleeping in the vet’s bed with him. Or what about a family emergency and you can’t bring the dog and all your pals are busy… so now you have to take your dog to a boarder and they might or might not use kennels or crates!
The point is, even though your lifestyle with your dog doesn’t warrant crate or kennel training, it’s STILL a good skill for your dog to have regardless. That way, if he’s ever put in the situation where he needs to be in one, he’s not clawing it until his paws bleed to get out because he doesn’t know how to handle the stress.
Life Skill #3—Being Cool Without A Leash
Here’s something many dog owners never get to because they still think it requires months and months and years of training and hard world to achieve. There’s still a myth regarding “off leash reliability” that it is this great mantel of success when in reality, it takes no time at all (just a few weeks and lots of clear, consistent information) to have a dog who doesn’t need a leash.
Now wait a minute, isn’t there leash laws? YES! Always obey leash laws! I’m not saying go downtown tomorrow and rip your dog’s leash off in an effort to give the middle finger to the city (I certainly have not done that). BUT AGAIN!
What if your dog’s collar breaks? I’ve seen this happen with every major type of collar, prongs, chokes, haltis, flat buckles and martingales. I’ve seen them all BREAK during training. So what happens then? What happens when the collar comes off and you no longer have that management system attached to your dog? Will he still listen? Will he sense freedom and bolt?
Let’s be clear on one thing… MANAGEMENT ALWAYS FAILS. It’s one of those “for sure” things in life, like death and taxes. If your dog views his collar and leash as a management system, when it goes away it leaves room for the bad behaviour it’s suppressing to resurface. That pulling on leash that the halti stops? You can be sure that’s not going away when the thing breaks off!
I got a great quote from a mentor of mine once and I’m paraphrasing, but it came from Chad Mackin and he said “An untrained dog sees the leash coming off as the shackles being dropped. He’s free, and he’ll exercise that freedom by running away and avoiding our commands. A dog in training will express some insecurity when the leash comes off as that vital communication is gone. A trained dog when his leash comes off will not even notice it’s gone”. This is a great summation.
I don’t train for off leash reliability to show off… I train for off leash reliability for the day where I no longer have a leash available to communicate to my dog. I know he’ll still listen. See THIS STORY as evidence!
This young Presa learned to be off leash reliable in just 3 weeks… This video was 15 days into his 21 day program with me
For more information on Wade’s Dogmanship’s BootCamps… CLICK HERE
Life Skill #4—Impulse Control and Decision Making
Until recently, dogs were largely viewed as simple input/output machines. All their behaviour and choices were dictated by pre-conditioning. Ask any dog owner from the begining of time who hasn’t read any of B.F. Skinners work, they’ll gladly tell you their dog thinks. But up until recently, this fact wasn’t supported by science. Well, now it is.
But I’ve never been a large proponent of letting science back up my work. A carpenter doesn’t need physics to know a nail can hold a piece of wood together real well… he just does it. So Google it because I have no interest in siting double-blind, peer reviewed studies… I’ve got dogs to train.
So here is my nitty gritty when it comes to dogs, thinking and decision making…
A dog who lacks self control is impulsive. He goes with his instincts first, the first thought. So for many dogs, when they see a prey object like a squirrel their first thought (sometimes only thought) is “that thing needs a good chasin'”. A dog who has never been asked to exercise impulse control rushes to choices. This is also a problem and prime cause for aggression in my opinion. A dog who bites first is a dog who won’t make it terribly far in our world.
Here’s the flip and what I attempt to accomplish through training…
A dog who has learned and can exercise impulse control has the ability to make choices. If the dog has the ability to stop that adrenaline spike when he sees the squirrel, that’s long enough for me to give him more information and feedback about what I want from him when that distraction is present so I can literally rework his behaviour habits. Before the habit used to look like this:
see squirrel>adrenaline>chase squirrel
After some impulse control training and teaching the dog to ignore distractions… it might look like this
see squirrel>adrenaline>STOP AND CONTROL>Think for a moment (at this point, if the dog is early in training, I’ll recall him back to me. If it’s later in training and he’s had many repetitions of this scenario and knows what’s expected of him, I’ll wait for HIM to make a choice and give him feedback on it. If he does chase, he’s corrected).
People get to see this all the time with my dogs around food especially. My Lab mix has a fantastic amount of self control around food, but because people aren’t used to dogs with self control, Rocky gets told “no” a lot just for sniffing. I use Rocky as a demonstration frequently when it comes to dogs making choices based on training. I’ll have food on my lap and won’t say a word and Rocky will come up, sniff it and go lie down. He’ll never try and steal food off a human plate and rarely begs (unless it’s steak… they aren’t robots). This self control came from days of doing downstays around our table scraps to solidify in his mind this rule: Just because food is unprotected or even on the floor, doesn’t mean it’s yours to eat freely.
This is a complex subject that will be covered in a different post at some point, but the bottom line of this life skill is this
Self Control is like a muscle. The more it’s worked, the stronger it gets. The less it’s worked, the more likely it will atrophy. Every time your dog is put in a stay and presented with something that tempts him to break, he’s faced with a choice. Follow the impulse or control himself. The more he does this, the easier it gets for him to ignore the things of the world that make him… squirrely?
Check out Rocky helping me distraction proof a BootCamp Dog. This was only a 6 Day JumpStart BootCamp and this was being done on day 5. For any dog, ignoring a ball AND a dog in motion is hard mental work.
Here’s a semi private group of my past clients doing some distraction proofing as well
This is not a finished list. As I grow in my studies of dogmanship things end up getting added, removed and altered all the time to this list. But this is the foundation, the fundamentals of what I believe every dog should know to exist in every facet of our world.
Think I missed something? Leave it in the comments!
Tonight I encountered a scenario which made me truly thankful I can trust my dog off leash. More than that, I pictured how insane it might be to even encounter this scenario with a poorly behaved dog. One of the biggest reasons I train and encourage others to train for off leash reliability as a goal for training is because you might be in a scenario someday where the management tool of choice isn’t available… you don’t have your remote collar on, you don’t have food with you, you don’t have a leash on your dog or, the all to common, collar break (this alone has happened on a flat buckle, halti, prong and choke chain with me).
My wife Karlynn and I stopped by my parents house tonight for dinner. Karlynn and my son Brennan got there a little earlier, but not to far behind was me and Rocky fresh from running in the fields. Karlynn had to return back to work early and I was taking Brennan home.
Here’s where things start to go south…
Just as I’m getting Brennan’s snow suit on, my father informs me that the elevator in his building is still on service because someone is moving in and just went all the way down to the basement (presumably so the folks moving in could reload it). My parents live on the sixth floor. My mother as thoughtful as she is, suggests calling the building super to fetch the elevator for us so we didn’t have to brave the stairs, but me being the head-strong get-it-done person I am opted not to wait.
So I picked my 25 lbs one year old son, slung his diaper bag over my shoulder and beckoned Rocky along off leash. All the way down six flights of stairs, Rocky kept in step with me. Once we reached the lobby, he continued hanging beside me. We came out the doors to find another dog coming in, and instead of bolting off to say hi and engage with it, Rocky snugged my leg and moved on with his pack. I downed him by the van so I could strap Brennan in his car seat and then loaded Rocky into his Kennel. Once home, I gathered my son—who was sleeping soundly at this point—and his bags while Rocky waited patiently in the kennel, no fidgeting, whining or barking. I cracked the hatch and let him out.
Without giving a command, Rocky stayed tight to my leg, yielded doorways and space to me so I didn’t have to worry about tripping him, sat when I stopped to fiddle with my keys all without a tether between him and I.
Once we opened the front door, the mission was complete and Rocky rewarded himself with some gulps of water before coming up and laying down in Brennan’s room while I tucked him in.
I had to give Rocky one VERBAL command the whole time, and that was to let him know we were leaving my parents. Not another word was spoken.
Our relationship is not always this care free or easy, there are many opportunities Rocky will take to see if the rules still apply. But he always intuitively knows when I need him to be sharp. Whether that means being on point as an escort to Brennan and I or helping me evaluate a dog aggressive dog… I’m thankful my dog doesn’t always need a leash!
I haven’t been hugely active in the “method war” in dog training, mainly because I feel if someone wants to know more about something, they don’t tend to rage about how ineffective it is. I have had folks come to be and ask genuine questions about things that I do or use, the most inquired about tool being Remote Training Collars. These tools are consistently scrutinized for reasons behind my understanding. If anybody took the time to observe (or even participate) in the demonstrations I give my clients, they would understand that these tools are not as bad (or inhumane) as many folks claim them to be.
Don’t get me wrong, I get it. Remote collars back in the 70’s and 80’s were no joke. They had one level and were meant for one thing. The term “Shock and awe” comes to mind when I think about them. They hit hard, and they hit fast… and the sensation lingered, much like an electric horse fence.
Here’s the problem
Many things have changed in the past few decades and Remote Collars are much different as well. There aren’t to many things that haven’t changed since the 80’s, but for some reason, everybody still thinks Remote Training Collars are still used for Shock and Awe.
We’ve seen advances in every piece of technology, and remote collars are no different. They are now used in much more subtle way than they were back in the day. Rarely do qualified professionals strap one on a dog and turn up the levels to punish a dog for a behaviour. Dog’s are trained on the level where they first perceive the stimulation. This triggers a curiosity in the dog’s head because what they’re feeling is very foreign to them. All of a sudden, you (the handler) are giving them information and as they listen, the “feeling” goes away. It becomes a game, and it’s fun! Most dogs pick up on remote collar training fast because it makes them think without putting them in a super high state of arousal. And when you’re talking about training a nice, calm pet dog… that’s exactly what you want.
I’m not big on “defending” my equipment and method choices, but I do believe in creating awareness. I don’t think my methods are better than others… but I do believe in educating the ignorant. It might be a strong statement, but anybody that tells you that Remote Collars are “cruel, inhumane and could ruin your dogs” either last attempted to use one in the 80’s or received lessons from a VERY POORLY trained professional.
Would you take computer advice from someone who’s last computer was the original Macintosh?
Below is a video clip of one of my bootcamp dog’s first session on a remote training collar. One thing I want you to be aware of is his overall attitude and demeanour… if remote training collars were as inhumane and cruel as some thing, wouldn’t he be expressing a lot more avoidance, heistiation and non-engagement than he was?
My truth may not be the same as others, and that’s OK. Educate yourself and make your own mind up… don’t take anything I say for face value without first exploring it yourself!
It was Christmas morning and i was almost three years old. I came lumbering down the stairs knowing Santa had come during the night. When I got to the tree, my young brain was overcome with the sight of presents protruding from under our tree. My parents of course pointed out all the gifts Santa had left me and I was overjoyed. So much so, that i did something both my parents didn’t expect.
I kicked a present…
This wasn’t an “I wonder what is in this box” type kick.
This was a “holy cow I’m so excited I don’t know what to do” kick.
Out of sheer excitement, I booted one of my gifts.
The brain does funny things under states of mild stress and arousal. Many people don’t look at an excited dog and think the dog is under stress but the fact is, excitement is very similar to fear chemically speaking. There’s also a big difference between being happy and being excited.
A state of excitement makes it hard for your dog to make good choices like he would when he’s calmer. Ever wonder why all your dog’s obedience training goes out the window when you get home and he’s excited? That’s stress. In order to address the behaviour you must address the mind first. Once the mind is calmer than we can begin to try and influence the behaviour and teach our dog something different… like sitting if you want our affection.
So if you’re having problems with getting your dog to understand something… consider if he’s staring a pile of presents in the eye and getting ready to kick them!
“The opposite of what you know is also true”
Timber Hawkeye made that the first principle of his book “Buddhist BootCamp” and I’m growing more in love with that concept each day. In fact, it’s got me thinking a lot about the concept of “truth” in dog training and the more I think on it, the more I realize that it’s the same concept just seen through a different lens.
Many people still don’t know that lie detectors don’t actually detect “lies”. They monitor physiological responses that coincide with deceit. What does that mean? That means a few guys back in the day realized that when someone tells a lie, certain things happen, such as our heart rate speeds up, our blood pressure rises and our pupils dilate. So what a lie detector (polygraph) actually detects isn’t a lie at all… it’s your body’s reaction to telling a lie.
This means someone could walk into a room and get strapped up to a polygraph and tell the most outrageous of untruths, but the machine could miss it and see it as the person telling the truth.
Someone from the 1600’s walks in, they hook him up and the question is asked…
“Is the earth round?”
And the polygraph doesn’t even twitch…
Why? Because, to the person speaking, it was completely true.
In the dog world, everybody, both dog owners and trainers are searching for what doesn’t make the polygraph twitch. What nobody is considering is the fact that truth is relative to the observer. My truth is different than many other dog professionals just in the Kingston area alone. It doesn’t make my truth right and the other guy wrong or vice versa.
The fact is, there is no truth. Their are fundamentals that I believe all dog trainers should know, but there is no “one approach” that is correct while all the others are wrong.
This is something I’ve adapted to my everyday life, and I can assure you, when you come to realize truth is subjective to your time, place and circumstance you start seeing the world through the lens of compassion and empathy as opposed to your own personal filter.
The opposite of what you know is also true…
Also, to anybody who read this and dislike the idea your truth isn’t the only truth…
I’d you can’t be kind, be quiet.
If you wish to learn more about the book mentioned in this article, you can find it and purchase it at http://www.buddhistbootcamp.com
Some dogs have it, others don’t. Some humans have it and others don’t. It’s a matter of temperament in a lot of cases for both but one thing is for sure; even if you don’t like “being still”, it’s a good skill to have. Eventually in life, you’re going to need it.
Now, as far as dog training goes, “doing nothing” and “going nowhere” are two different concepts in my mind and the difference is presented in the moment and in context to what’s going on and what you’re doing. I’ve had people come to me and say “I just want to have people come over without my dog pestering everybody to give him attention and play with him.” This is common, and very fixable. This dog needs the skill of “doing nothing”. In traditional obedience, this is called a “stay”. I don’t mean “stay for a few seconds on the edge of your seat until I release you to get your reward”. The way I teach stay is much more than a 10 second command… it’s a game changer for many. I like every dog that I come to train to have the ABILITY to hold a stay without fussing and breaking for up to an hour if I ask. Some might read that and think “my dog would never do that!”. If you thought that, I like you 🙂 and you should call me so I can show you how easy it is!
The skill of “doing nothing” (aka stay) is one that some dogs need to learn. Like any skill, when properly trained, it’s there when you need it.
So how does that differ from “going nowhere”?
For many, “going nowhere” is something very different.
Both rely on the same principle of impulse control and being calm and still, but how “going nowhere” differs is the context.
For my programs that focus on helping the dog owner enjoy walking the dog again, I focus on how the walk starts and stops. Many excitable dogs who pull on leash and fuss at other dogs have a few things in common; one being the raised level of excitement and arousal when the walking gear comes out. The jingle of the collars and leashes is typically enough to send most dogs into a mild state of fight or flight in the disguise of excitement. Really, this is stress in camouflage.
What I recommend is suiting your dog up and then grabbing a seat. If your dog is proficient with “stay” you can stay your dog as well. If not, simply have a seat and wait until your dog is calm. I don’t mean laying down while staring at you whimpering either. I mean on-the-floor-the-way-she-is-when-nobody-is-in-your-house-after-a-walk-and-dinner calm. Then, and only then, go outside. What your dog learns from this exercise is to be calm and things will happen, but anything less than calm and we don’t go anywhere. You’ll find after two weeks, if you have to sit at all, the excitement nonsense will last a few minutes (if you’re still encountering it at all).