Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Profession of Dog Training

By: Drayton Michaels, CTC - Urban Dawgs©

I've thought about this for some time now, and I cannot think of a parallel profession where someone is concerned that if they don't book the client, the client may end up in the hands of someone that will cause the client fear and pain. Humans AND Dogs are clients, and its the dog client that we're mostly concerned about as the human is making the conscious choices about the training. The dog is subjected to human choices.

Making this worse is the addition of false information about behavior that typically accompanies the pain training approach. Fabrications of the highest order get bandied about like it was empirical evidence to "sell" the client on using fear and pain, though that's not how it's sold, they use murky language like "leadership" or "showing the dog who's in charge", also "energy", talk about murky. Define "leadership energy". Funny I didn't see that in any text books on Applied Behavior Analysis.

I work quickly to respond to inquires about dog training not only as a matter of efficiency, but also as a matter of advocacy and education.

It is my hope that even if the potential client does not hire me, they'll at least consider not hiring a pain trainer. They'll have proper legit info on how dogs learn and the fallouts to using harsh punishment.

The profession of companion dog training is divided like sports rivals or religion, and it should not be, as if we look at dog and human behavior with a legit ABA lens, the best practices do not include fear and pain, and if the overarching goal is to help dogs and their guardians to live better lives with less stress, then why would issuing fear and pain be part of the process?

Indeed punishment can occur without fear and pain, an aversive does not have to be as intense as shock, choke, hitting, pinning or startling.

Disappointing a dog or removal of reinforcement works just fine and will keep sound dogs sound and dogs with behavior issues have less of a chance to sensitize. Seems like a common sense and safe approach to me.

It seems that a dog has to die or be seriously injured by a "trainer" in order for anything to be done, and even then it's typically dealt with a fine. In rare cases and depending on the lawyer and the state maybe jail time. There is no real aversive punishment for the pain "trainer" that really messes up a dog physically or behaviorally. They pretty much get away with it.

If we called the humane police and said "a person is electrocuting a dog", I wonder if they'd look the other way if that person called themselves a "trainer"?

If the authorities were called and told "a person keeps choking their dog with a metal device", I wonder if that would be ok if it was called a "training" collar?

Why is causing dogs fear and pain not a problem when it's labeled "training", but in any other context it's abuse? The same nerve endings are being effected and stress hormones are needlessly being emitted by way of humans causing fear and pain?

Why is it that companion dog training appears to be the only profession where the professionals are divided not by different scientific approaches, whether someone is aware of it or not aware of it, classical and operant conditioning are occurring simultaneously, and have long lasting effects. Nope, what the profession of companion dog training is divided by is; to use food rewards and Pre Mack conditioned responses, or the use of fear and pain to extinguish and maintain behavior.

I'm sure glad I'm on the winning team.

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