Monday, 19 December 2011

Natural dog training

There are a lot of people claiming different ways of training your dog.  Some of these people will use equipment that I just won't; from ecollars to water pistols.  See my previous post "Punishing your dog" .

You may even hear people say "we only use natural methods".  Ask questions and find out what these "natural" methods are.  Dog's don't train other dogs, they speak dog, sometimes with an accent that others find hard to understand so they get into trouble, dogs are happy for other dogs to be dogs!

Natural methods vary, but are often based on so called pack rules, The list of pack rules is inconsistent but generally include, not allowing the dog on furniture, to lie in doorways, to start or end games or attention seeking behaviour or to pull on the leash; to always eat before your dog, go through doorways first, to be able to remove your dog’s food while it is eating and to put your dog into a down (alpha roll - see previous post as above).

 Taking the rules one at a time it is possible to unpick them and how they do not relate to wolf or dog behaviour and how as humans we are not equipped to mimic canine behaviour  For instance always eating before your dog is impractical and can also send mixed messages if you are unable to eat first.

You may get told that you must eat before your dog as that is what happens in the wild, or you may even get told that is what wolves do.  Both of these statements are incorrect.  Wild dogs and wolves will let the next generation eat first.  What happens if you are going out for a meal?  Do you have to eat something before the dog anyway?  What about if someone in the household is not in or is ill and unable to eat?

Ever been told to pinch your dog in the neck using a hand that mimics how another dog would bite and make a "tsssk" noise at the same time?  I'm yet to hear a dog make that sound or bite another dog in that manner to make it behave or to stop being dominant. Biting in play or aggression I've seen, so what is your dog thinking when you do this?
People can teach dogs to behave to suit us using classical and operant conditioning and dogs can learn how to use operant conditioning to manipulate people and their environment to gain reward. Conditioning is based on sound science researched for years, it's used to manage wild animals is zoos and to train Orca in Seaworld.

A futher explaination of Classical and Operant Conditioning will be in a future post.

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