It’s possible that one of the biggest impediments to attracting more men to positive rewards based training is simply one of public relations.
As I stated in parts one and two of this series, I believe that men of my generation and those generations either side of me, have had similar experiences when it comes to learning. Although generalities, I believe that much of the following rings true.
- We accept punishment as part of the learning process.
- Discipline is part and parcel of being a good man.
- We are taught to be leaders. “Step Up” and “Take Charge” are phrases repeated to us early and often.
- We accept that confrontation is sometimes part of achieving a desirable outcome.
I could add several more to this list but I think this is a good representation. Now, I would like to take a look at some entries listed in Glossary of Terms from “Cesar’s Way”, a page from the website of possibly the best known dog trainer in the world, Cesar Milan.
- Exercise, discipline, and affection… in that order
- Master the walk
- Rules, boundaries, and limitations
When you couple these with other popular Cesar aphorisms like “Be Pack Leader” and “Claim Your Space”, it’s easy to see that Cesar already seems to speak a language that we’re familiar with.
Now let’s take our assumption a bit further and imagine that you’re a man who simply wants to teach some basic manners to your dog. You’re not really interested in learning theory or ethology and most of the dog training advice you’ve received in the past deals with leashes, choke chains, and newspapers.
Would you be more inclined to enroll in a class where much of the terminology is familiar and the concepts mirror the type of training you’ve received in the past; or enroll in a class where the terminology and methods are not as familiar and “seem” out of step with your own personality and experiences?
Whether you believe in the methods of Cesar Milan or not, you have to admit that on the surface, his approach strikes a familiar chord with men. His name and sound bites are constantly in the media. His message is familiar to men and echoes the sentiments of coaches and instructors, past and present. And finally, if all we are looking for is a simple method for having a well behaved dog, why wouldn’t we be drawn to classes that offer familiar sentiments and values?
The simple fact is that we are pulled towards things that are familiar to us. The language and methods used in some positive rewards based training classes probably seem foreign to many men. It’s not that we aren’t interested in learning a new way, but in many classes I’ve attended there is no “man friendly” road map for me to follow.
In the final part of this series, I will talk about creating that man friendly road map and making class more appealing and accessible to the average man looking to train his dog.