I was re-reading a book recently by one of my favorite authors, Brandon Sanderson, titled, The Way of Kings. A particular passage from one of my favorite characters in the book really struck a chord with me, it read in part:
“… it seems to me that aging, wisdom, and wondering are synonymous. The older we grow, the more likely we are to reject the simple answers. Unless someone gets in our way and demands they be accepted regardless.”
The reason this passage resonates with me, is because I feel it is very relatable to the advice that many people are given about dog training and behavior. To be clear, I’m not talking about behaviors like sit, stay, and down; I’m talking about issues like fear, aggression, and our perception of misbehavior.
Many people today take their training cues from television, a medium that demands resolution within a specified time period. It must offer a quick and efficient resolution to any problem presented within the viewing period allowed regardless of real world constraints, moral and ethical treatment among them. It sells a notion that feeds into the psychology of being human; the quick fix.
Catchphrases, and dogmatic rhetoric about disproven behavior models are simple, meaningless answers to complex questions. The animal at the other end of the leash, deserves more than a quick fix and our acceptance of psychologically manipulated content. It deserves critical thinking about effective and workable solutions that considers emotional state, as a relevant part of the solution.
Rejecting overly simplistic answers is part of what we owe our dogs; our thoughts should always reflect our concern for their mental and physical well being as a prerequisite for any training methods we choose.