Are We Training Our Dog or Training for a Fight?

While watching the TV show The Dog Whisperer the other night, I decided to close my eyes and listen very carefully to the words and phrases being used on the show. Following is a partial list:

  • claim your space
  • confront him
  • don’t be a passive human
  • striking stance
  • primal behavior
  • master of the house
  • be dominant
  • chaos
  • be top dog
  • aggressive
  • aggression
  • attack
  • don’t be weak

If I didn’t know better, I’d think I was listening to the instructor of a self-defense class.  Why does training a dog have to sound like a life and death struggle straight out of the Coliseum?

One possible answer has nothing to do with training dogs and everything to do with selling ads on TV. Drama and confrontation sell. A catchphrase like “Calm Assertive Pack Leader” is great for branding a TV show, but the meaning behind it is truly misapplied when it comes to training and interacting with domestic dogs. If you think that living with a dog means a constant battle for household supremacy, why have a dog in the first place?

The truth of the matter is that training your dog doesn’t have to be a constant battle of wills and can, in fact, be fun and exciting for both you and your dog. By using Positive Reinforcement and Classical Conditioning, we can train our dogs without having to resort to the tactics of the schoolyard bully.

Following are just a few of the many great resources out there that deal with the science of training, proving once again that science can be fun:

As always this list is not complete and I know that there are many other great sites out there with good information on positive training. If you know of a good resource that should be listed here, just leave us a comment and we will update this post.

As an addendum to this post, I would like to add a link to the site BEYOND CESAR MILLAN. For those of you who think that Cesar’s methods are effective or harmless, please visit this site. It has a ton of information from qualified professionals that have studied that actual science of animal behavior and learning.

Kevin, Jackie, Gavin, Annie, Tosha

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