Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Nature’s Template for Dog Training

Many celebrity dog trainers claim to have studied wild dogs. Dog owners get eyes as big as saucers when they hear this proclamation. It imparts supernatural tendencies on the trainer. Very few people have the chance to see dogs in the wild. How can any owner question the observations of those who have seen what we have not?

Owners blindly follow the sage advice of those who have seen “real dogs”. The majority of the time, that advice goes something like:

By watching how the alpha reigns supreme, we can mimic these behaviours and the dog will obey. Instant sits, no more house soiling, no pulling when walking on leash. It is an “instant cure.” All behaviour problems will be solved if an owner is alpha enough. Owners mimic the bite of a mother dog. No food treats are allowed. Mother dogs do not reward a puppy with food treats. Throw the treats away. It is unnatural and humanizes the dog. Only coddling, permissive, passive, submissive owners would stoop to that level of bribery, something a real dog would not do. Instead, owners should adopt the corrections of a mother dog, rewards are limited to praise, chest massages and tug games.

Yes, I am one of those few people lucky enough to have seen dogs in the wild. There are some thoughts I would like to share on the matter.

I promise you these things:

Dogs do not do obedience in the wild. Yup, that is right. Obedience is a human idea. Dogs do not walk each other on leash, and they can wander off and do as they please whenever they like. Mother dogs do not correct puppies for lack of obedience. You can be the biggest alpha in the universe and your dog still has no clue what heel position means. I will not change my mind on this until I see dogs barking sit commands at one another.
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