Scientific Dog Behavior Modification or Archaic Dogmatism Touted by the Masses???

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Do you have dog behavioral issues you are dealing with?  Many do and that stems in part from a large failure on the part of the dog training world as a whole.  Let me explain.

I spend almost every day of my life behaviorally rehabilitating dogs with real issues such as aggression, fear, hyperactivity, and severe anxiety and that’s just to name a few.  I do this with fantastic success.  I do not do this with the methods most of the trainers and behaviorist tout as the best or newest “scientific” method for animal training or behavioral modification!

Science is ever changing.  Science is also sometimes wrong and yet often accepted as the best way or the right way until the newer or better invention or discovery comes along and makes the old one look archaic and obsolete.  Did you know most people living prior to the 1600s believed that the sun rotated around the earth and not the other way round?  We now know thanks to guys like Copernicus and Galileo that our solar system is heliocentric and not geocentric.  The fact remains that for hundreds, possibly thousands of years mankind believed the earth was the center of the universe!  Turns out they were dead wrong.

Real science should be about seeking the truth, testing the method with trials and experiments.  The results should speak for themselves!   The truth needs no defense!

When considering dogs, their training, and their rich history partnering with us- isn’t it unfair to classify them with other animals?  Shouldn’t we consider domestication and the effects it would have on behavior?  Shouldn’t we look deeper into the social bonds between man and dog?  No other animal in the world lives as closely to man as our dogs do.

Delve a little deeper. Be specific about the animal you are working with. Don’t ever train your dog like you would your dolphin!

In today’s “modern” dog training many behaviorists have taken the scientific work of Burrhus F. Skinner and blown it way out of proportion.  This is the major problem with almost all training companies.  They think there are only two ways to work with a dog!  Typical trainers cite Skinner’s work as the, “end all-be all” of animal training.  Believe me, they get extremely dogmatic and close-minded about any other methods which is exactly the opposite of real science!  I’m not saying animals don’t prefer “positive reinforcement” to “negative reinforcement.”  I’ll readily admit you can train many different animals using both positive or negative reinforcement.  And, obviously, any being would prefer treats to electric shock.

Burrhus Frederick Skinner himself is quoted as saying, “The way positive reinforcement is carried out is more important than the amount.”  This means stop excessive bribery and constant high pitched praise for any and all decent behaviors from your dogs…it’s too much!  The trainers and behaviorists have gone way too far!  They have combined what Burrhus discovered with the idea that they can make a lot of money selling treats to consumers to the point that most trainers are now so far gone they spend a majority of their time stuffing treats down the poor dogs throat instead of using calmness, firmness and play to work with your dog like mother nature teaches!

Are you bribing instead of building a strong relationship with your dog or pup?  Are you exciting instead of calming them down like mother nature teaches her young?  Is the trainer or behaviorist you are using getting you excellent results or are they just another cookie-cutter zombie who have no answers when the treats and excitement do not work?

Here’s a rat in a “Skinner box”…I’ll take real life over a box any day of the week and I’ll rehab your dog’s behavior faster than B.F. Skinner could have dreamed! And I’ll do it all with calmness and building a healthy relationship based on mother nature’s ways!

 

What I’m attempting to share with you is that there is something Better than positive or negative reinforcement! There is something much better!  This something can only be discovered when we really seek to understand and learn.  Dogs have been domesticated for 10,000 – 20,000 years and we should be seeking a much deeper relationship than what some scientist cooked up in his lab.  Most dog professionals have missed the whole point!  Our society needs to have an awakening and discover that dogs are more than lab rats.  

Real life is more than just science.  It was recently Valentine’s day.  Did any of you give your sweethearts a card filled with the science of how your brain releases more oxytocin into your body when they are around?  Did you mention how your cortisol levels are on the rise?  Did you mention how your testosterone is lowered if you’re a man and raised if you’re a female?  Did you get all technical and then proceed to make said “science” the main point of your relationship and hammer that home over and over to prove you are in love?  NO – you didn’t.

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A wise lover doesn’t get too technical when wooing. Let the senses and instinct take over in your training and get all the “science” out of your head. This will be hard for you to do because it has been hammered home so much by the status quo.

 

Please don’t make the same mistake if you’re a trainer or behaviorist!  If you’re not a trainer or behaviorist please don’t hire a trainer/behaviorist who consistently makes the same mistakes in their training methods year after year after year!  Search out something better.

Focus and develop a real relationship (not based on “positive” bribery or “negative” punishment). Emulate the model of parent dogs with pups.  Please don’t diminish the excellent relationship available to you and your dog (the real communication, the use of energy control, the amazing domestic partnership) just because science told you there is only two ways to work with your dog or pup.  There is a whole new world of possibility open to us when we take a real look at real life with our dogs!

Stop focusing on “science” and the status quo and start focusing on your dog.  Forget training.  Instead look at how dogs move, how dogs are experiencing the world. Take note of when the behavioral issue is occurring and attempt to do something before the unsocial or rude behaviors happen.  If you do I promise you’ll start to see how and when to interrupt or intercept unsocial energy.  You’ll prevent problems just like the mother or father dog can.  You’ll learn how to adjust the dog’s body posture into more peaceful, social language.  You’ll discover they are not just rats in a Skinner box waiting to be bribed with treats or punished and shocked!  You may just find a real relationship with complex communication and… you may just find your best friend!

Need Help?   call Garrett Stevens at 253-653-4890

 

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2 thoughts on “Scientific Dog Behavior Modification or Archaic Dogmatism Touted by the Masses???

  1. Jean Curely

    A great perspective that I believe completely with. I see the big difference when you have a dog as possession and one as a friend to enjoy and spend time with. They are far more respectful and responsive. However, I do have a problem that I’m hoping to not use my mini pinch. I haven’t had the need to use this method, How would you stop an older dog , an Irish Terrier about 4 yrs old, from jumping up while walking off leash freely in my yard. He doesn’t enjoy tugging much, but rather I carry a soft pull toy in my hand so he won’t bite at my hand or arm. He will enjoy pulling it as we walk together, therefore, I can help him express his energy and not bite at me. When he is done tugging and free in the yard, he can come out of nowhere and literally leap straight up to greet me. He has touched my nose. We just started agility and he loves it! He truly enjoys the challenge but his excitement is very high. He barks while we run the course and he tries to bite a my hand. We are still so new, so I have alot to learn and teach. He is a sensitive, gentle dog. Your input would be great.

    • Thanks so much for the comment. We appreciate any feedback! I would practice more walking calmly on leash in the yard. And do the type of free walking where the dog is allowed to basically do almost anything (except get pushy, jumpy, mouthy, etc) Basically you are laying down a rule that he can do whatever he wants in the yard provided it’s not jumping up or mouthing you. After doing that for a couple days then walk out in the yard with your dog off leash. As soon as the dog starts to get foolish or make the wrong choice by mouthing or out-touching you or jumping up and not respecting your space you want to go right into his! And go into his space firmly and seriously. Remember, your issue (like so, so many others out there) is Not an issue of training! It is an issue of how to calm the dog! It is an issue of how to get the dog to respect you. It is an issue of personal space. More sits, downs, heel, stays, etc will Not help. Forget training and behavior modification…instead continue to build your relationship using naturally calming methods that line up perfectly with mother nature’s ways.

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