Certified Trainer Opposes 'Train with Pain' Techniques
Positive Reinforcement Training
Positive reinforcement training helps dogs learn how to learn. When humans reinforce desired behaviors, those behaviors return over and over again. When humans ignore behaviors, those behaviors disappear. Both of these things make sense to dogs and teaches dogs that learning is how best to live in a very human world.
For example, one of the things many people want their dogs to do is to walk politely on a leash.
Some trainers suggest electronic collars, prong collars, or choker collars. When the dog pulls, you correct the dog by pulling on the choker or prong collar or shocking with the electronic collar to punish the undesired behavior.
I have found, instead, that what these collars teach dogs is how to behave when wearing their training collar. Dogs are very quick to know which collar is which and how to behave when wearing a particular collar.
It also teaches dogs that their handlers can and will inflict pain. What if your dog is walking with you and is frightened by something, pulls out to the end of the leash and the prong or choker collar tightens?
Or what if your dog is frightened and starts to run away and won't come back to you -- using the shock collar to call your dog teaches that coming back is painful.
Instead I teach dogs to walk politely by rewarding them when they are actually doing it. After only a few training sessions with treats, dogs will walk politely because they have learned that doing so is good and rewarding and the bond between dog and handler has been enhanced through the experience (instead of deteriorated by pain).
The bonus? These dogs know how to walk politely regardless of the collar or harness they have on, and, in fact, when they have no collar on at all! These dogs have LEARNED.
I do not use aversive, punishment based equipment and/or techniques. I simply cannot inflict pain on my dog.
I know how to effectively use aversive collars but I choose not to.
The average dog owner has no idea how to effectively use these collars.
I refuse to shock my dog until she does what I want her to do and then "reward" her by releasing the shock. That simply is not going to happen.
I will not tighten a collar around my dog's neck, with the risk of injury, to "encourage" her to do something.
I will not use aversive collars and then reward my dog with food to teach mixed messages.
I know these collars are painful to dogs. I have seen the way dogs react when wearing them. I do not buy into the idea that the "shock collar is just a tap," or that the "prong collar mimics the way mother dogs correct their puppies." I know how a shock collar feels. And I know how mother dogs correct their puppies. Neither of these myths is true. Pain is pain. It hurts, it causes injury and it harms relationships.
My senior dog has a collapsing trachea. I began her training with a prong collar many years ago. I will always wonder if I caused her health issues because I chose to inflict pain on my dog in training. (Something I will never know for sure.)
I sought out and wholeheartedly adopted positive reinforcement training because of my own dog. I could no longer use pain to train, it was too emotionally painful for me.
Now this particular dog has over 40 titles in multiple sports and is both a therapy and a crisis response dog. I am a deeply committed, educated, and certified positive reinforcement trainer.
I also do not subscribe to dominance theory.
Dogs' social structure is such that they view the "leader of the pack" as the one who can provide the particular necessary resource at the time.
Since I write the checks, feed the dogs, put water in their bowls, give them shelter, and provide for their every need, they view me as their leader. Until they can start doing these things for themselves, that is not going to change.
Dominance theory is actually based on flawed research; the research was done on captive wolves. Wolves are not dogs and wolves do not have the same social structure as dogs. Moreover, captive wolves behave differently than wild wolves. Therefore dominance theory is not an accurate theory to apply to our family dogs.
My credentials: Certified Professional Dog Trainer -- Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA), Certified Behavior Consultant, Canine -- Knowledge Assessed (CBCC-KA), Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Therapy Dogs Incorporated Tester/Observer, Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) Professional Member, Canine Life and Social Skills (C.L.A.S.S.) Instructor and Evaluator, Extra Mile Ministries' K9 Crisis Response Team Midwest Director.
Buchele's K-9 Service, LLC
Ken Buchele OPOTA-A
Laurie Buchele CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA
Companions on a Journey.