I just completed teaching a 6-week dog training and behavior class at a local dog rescue organization and was so pleased at the favorable comments from the class members. They had fun and so did their dogs!  I use all positive training methods as opposed to the antiquated force or punishment-based techniques.  By using rewards-based motivation, the dogs are happy to learn and a better bond is forged between dog and owner. 

Naively, I thought that the dog training community had mostly forsaken choke chains, prong collars and leash pops- the tools of torture of old-style dog trainers.  To my dismay, there are still quite a few of these trainers thriving in business…and creating fearful dogs.  One of my students had enrolled in such a training class prior to mine.  The trainer was stern, used choke chains and force methods.  The dogs in the class cowered instead of willingly participating.  This trainer even trotted out her own dogs to demonstrate their obedience skills. It was very evident that the dogs were terrified of the trainer and obeyed out of fear that they would be punished.  My student was appalled and immediately withdrew from the class. Instinctively, she knew she didn’t want to subject her dog to that treatment.  Luckily, she found my class.

Punishment/force techniques were first used to train working dogs – hunting, retrieving, herding, guarding and protection.  These dogs were rarely household pets, kept outside and strictly utilitarian.  The only human-animal connection was used for working purposes.  As dogs’ roles shifted to family members, the scientific community learned more about dogs’ behaviors as they interacted with their new-found human packs. Researchers began finding that the punishment/force-based training methods used for working dogs were not optimal in creating a strong, loving bond for family dogs. 

The dog training community has been slow to accept this research and many continue to train in methods that they learned from someone else with the attitude of “that’s the way it’s always been done.” Change is difficult but there are more and more “crossover trainers” who have converted their methods from the old Napoleonistic ways  to truly understanding how dogs think and feel, and what’s best to build a strong, loving relationship between dog and human.

There are those out there who will contest and claim that punishment methods work.  Indeed, these methods can train a dog but what these people fail to mention is, 1) some dogs will become aggressive or others will become so afraid that they shut down when punishment is used.  When training working dogs, these are the ones who get euthanized or sent to shelters because they are worthless to the owner, and 2) Punishment makes the dog obey out of fear, not love and motivation.  Wouldn’t you rather learn when someone is dangling a chocolate bar in front of you instead of a taser gun??  I choose chocolate!

Please read a couple of articles from my web site about choke chains, prong collars and shock collars, all equipment that I encourage others to avoid.

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