The real world of forest, field and fen presents a lot of serious aversive consequences for the wild animals that live there and the farm animals, humans and pets that visit.
Mother Nature is not a clicker trainer!
In the clip, above, an African Spitting Cobra teaches an adult male lion about the consequences of approaching too closely.
In the clip, below, a Puff Adder gives the same message to a Honey Badger who apparently just survives his ordeal.
Here in the U.S., of course, we have snakes that are every bit as dangerous as the Spitting Cobra or the Puff Adder -- Mojave Rattlesnakes, Western Diamondbacks, and Eastern Diamondbacks.
A dog that gets bit by a rattlesnake has a reasonably high chance of being dead in short order and a very certain chance of being in a lot of distress requiring expensive veterinary intervention.
The one thing that reliably works for dogs that hunt in territory frequented by rattlesnakes is snake-aversion training, and the best snake aversion training is done with an e-collar.
Of course the pure click-and-treat crowd does not really care what works. The most extreme in this crowd have slipped into cult-like babble that is as immune to fact, reason, observation, and experience as anything you will hear from a born-again Christian, Mormon, or Scientologist.
Apparently the message of the Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training Behavior (which despite the grand name is simply an unaccredited dog training school with no buildings) is that your dog is better off dead than discomforted by being trained to avoid snakes.
Really? Karen Pryor salutes that? Hard to believe, but that, at least, is the message of Nan Arthur who is an instructor with the Karen Pryor Academy and who, when asked about snake-proofing dogs, had no training advice at all other than to tell The North County Times that no one should ever take their dog off-leash in an area where there might be a rattlesnake -- which, of course, includes most of the United States.
So no bird hunting, eh? No rabbit coursing, no terrier work, no pig hunting.
And never mind that in California, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Florida it's not entirely unlikely that you will one day find a rattlesnake in your backyard.
I suppose in those states no one should ever let their dog off of the living room rug!
Ms. Arthur goes on to tell us that e-collars simply do not work.
"There is no scientific evidence whatsoever that shock collars teach anything to dogs."
Right. Apparently Ms. Arthur is as as well informed on these matters as a parakeet. People are paying her for training advice? Each to his own, of course, but as you are driving to a Karen Pryor Academy seminar (loans are available!), you might pay attention to all the cows by the side of the road that are carefully standing behind electric fencing. Those cows seem to have learned quite a lot from electric fencing, even if Ms. Arthur has not!
But, of course, it's not just cows. My own working terriers (like millions of other dogs) are contained behind a simple Invisible Fence system and never mind the parade of raccoons, fox, deer, possum and squirrels that travel through my yard at night. Invisible Fence has trained and taught my dogs that they are not to follow, and that training has been every bit as successful as the lessons taught by spitting cobras to adult lions.
But, of course, the observational success of e-collar training does end there, does it?
Scores of thousands of working bird dogs have learned and lived happy and productive lives with e-collar instruction.
Ditto for dogs that work Schutzhund and Ring, search and rescue, and even simple obedience.
All of this is completely new information to Nan Arthur, of course. Blinders on, her essential message to the world is: Snake death before discomfort!
Ms. Arthur goes on:
We live in snake country. That's just a fact. Horses get bitten, children get bitten, cats get bitten, and nobody's putting shock collars on them.
Right. Good point. Deep thinking going on there.
A horse weighs anywhere from 10 to 100 times the weight of a dog, and kids are warned about snakes, while cats rarely move more than 100 yards from a house.
So, really good points being made there Ms. Arthur. Thanks for sharing. Now what brand of shovel would you recommend I use when I bury my dog?
Death before discomfort? Oh yes, please tell us more!
And these are the dogs that lived!