Saturday, July 15, 2017

Dog Training Culture

By:  Drayton Michaels, CTC
Urban Dawgs

To my fellow force free trainers. Our culture is relatively new. Roughly for the past 20 years or so there has been a concerted effort to use non force methods to train pet dogs. Be patient in your efforts as the wheels of cultural change are slow to move. With that said there's much that can be done to speed up the education process.

There's also been a wrench in the works with a celeb dog "trainer" using force based approaches and sadly there is always a lemming effect with dogs and people looking for help when TV celebs are the aggregate.

There's a big component to companion dogs training that differentiates the industry from other service industries, we work with live beings that are innocent and very misunderstood. Where as hairdressers for example have clients who can speak up for themselves and other service industries like electricians, they either get shocked or they don't, they burn down the house or they don't, the electricity works or it doesn't it's binary. In behavior as many of us know there's a lot of variables, those variables largely are in understanding dogs are not "behaviorally perfect", they're not clocks. Dogs move at bio speed. Sadly centuries of myth and breed generalization have given humans the false notions dogs "should" or "shouldn't" do XYZ. While on a macro level dogs shouldn't run loose, be a nuisance, and should have proper care to ensure their soundness. That's all based in human behavior.

On a micro level there's lots of variables and when humans learn to relax, be patient, and adjust their criteria dogs do better.

Dogs should not be a tool to bolster a humans need to be perfect at something. Dogs should be cared for so they are properly understood and taught behavior via stress relief. Dogs should not be forced or behaving out of fear.

Behavior is in the environment, not "in the dog". Meaning something must occur for the dog to respond, humans are the variable as to what dogs learn about environments. There's a biological component to behavior. Dogs are not clocks. Sadly lots of myths about dominance and dogs possessing the cognition to formulate moral imperatives have eroded actual information about how behavior works in relation to dogs.

There's a learning curve here for people, dogs are not always binary, we need people to focus on their own behavior. The other variable that is crucial, is the generalization of fear and making sure people are aware of that and the risks associated with using fear and pain based dog "training" methods. It's not enough to say don't use fear and pain, it's about explaining why it's not sound and safe to teach dogs that way.

There's just so much that people need to learn and us legit educators need to work triple time to make sure that everybody's learning about behavior properly from legit sources. It's not just about training dogs without fear and pain, it's also about proactive education so dog training consumers are properly educated. If we want our culture to change we need Advocacy Overdrive from the Empathy Army.
Our challenge is making sure Force Free dog trainers are in the media, making sure that we're well represented online, meaning check yourself and rep our team with class, and making sure that we're doing our due diligence in our communities. If we want to change culture we have to work at it every day, sooner or later it'll come around on the right side we know that.

However it's not enough to know we're on the right side of history, we need to use all available media and social platforms to educate the public and the consumers of pet dog training. That means do the work. Create media, repost media, print handouts for Vets and people you know. Learn and continue to learn from legit sources. Don't just sit around complaining or feeling superior, dogs need your help, and in these times there's no excuse for not advocating for safe force free dog training everyday.

Onward and upward my friends and fellow force free dog training teammates! We got this, now let's help everyone one "get it".

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