Clicker Training Does Not Require Empathy
Dog training is not complex, and it does not require psychic abilities.
Of course some people think that must be the case! After all, if they have trained a dog to jump over a low fence, they must have a "gift" and a "special talent" for dog training, right?
Wouldn't that make them "special"?
One of these types wrote in yesterday to claim clicker training required "empathy, sensitivity, patience, excellent observational and mechanical skills, self-awareness, planning, appropriate utilization of canine ethology/canine body language and signals, and a knowledge of nutritional factors".
To which I can only say ..... Ri-i-i-i-ggght!
Clearly this poor soul does not know much about operant conditioning.
If she did, she would know that the best operant conditioners in the world have NO empathy, NO sensitivity, do NO planning, have NO knowledge of canine ethology or body language skills, and do not give a damn about nutritional factors.
And you know why these excellent animal trainers are so cold-hearted?
Because some of the best operant conditioners in the world are machines!
Machines are great at operant conditioning because they have infinite patience and perfect timing.
And here's a thought: they have infinite patience and perfect timing regardless of whether it is rewards-based training or aversion-based training.
This is Skinner 101.
The Skinner reference, of course, is to B.F. Skinner, the father of modern operant conditioning.
Watch the videos below, and you will Skinner's training machines in action.
And what is one of the best training machines for humans? Skinner points to the slot machine!
Of course, we have progressed beyond Skinner boxes and slot machines. Now we have online tests and even online universities. Click and treat!
I suppose, I should note that there is nothing wrong with empathy provided it is moderated somewhat.
You see, a good dog trainer is not overly emotional, while a bad dog trainer is one that is wearing a little too much on his or her sleeve.
The dog does not need the trainer's "concerns." The dog does not need the trainer's sympathy. The dog simply needs a clear, well-timed consequence or signal. And guess what? Well-designed machines are pretty good at delivering those, while "deeply concerned" arm-flapping humans who assume dog training is all about them, often are not!