Tuesday, June 17, 2014

It's a Cult, and You've Been Brainwashed

The cartoon is trying to be funny, but the dog with the brochures actually has a point, and I have even seen Bob Bailey himself make the point, which is that some of the more extreme clicker training advocates are more about the Cult of Clicker than they are about actually addressing the real needs of dogs and dog owners. 

Dog training has been around a very long time, more than one technique works, and not all techniques work to solve all problems on all dogs all the time. 

But is that what you hear from the pure positive clicker crowd?  Not so much.  Instead they tend to do what so many cults do:

My advice is to be a practical dog trainer. 

Two books that look at the world of dog training through more than one lens (and are recommended by me) are:  Mr. and Mrs. Dog (my review here) and Cesar's Rules (Smart Dog's review here).  Neither of these books are a course in dog training.  Instead, they are windows into a simple idea:  that dog training is not about philosophy, but about what actually works to make dogs and their owners happy and whole. 

Sure, in theory, theory and practice should line up, but in practice they rarely do.  Dogs are not quite as simple as so many of us want them to be.


mugwump said...

I am so happy to hear this! I'm training a young dog for the first time in many, many years.
First thing I was told was everything I had ever done was wrong (learned from my Dad).
Except I have always had well mannered, happy dogs who knew their jobs and did them well.
I didn't have to walk with treats or talk in a squeaky voice either....

Viatecio said...

Problem comes when people HAVE been lied to and they need to know that.

Presenting a motivational and well-timed aversive for the right misbehaviors will not damage your dog. In fact, you may notice more attention given to YOU once an aversive is presented--allowing you to reinforce for APPROPRIATE behavior.

Training collars do not contribute to aggression or "make it worse," and the insistence that the dog "will eventually get used to" that headcollar may not happen for a long time, if ever--even with "desensitization & counterconditioning." You REALLY want to spend weeks/months/years on teaching a dog to accept basic EQUIPMENT?

Prozac, trazadone, Paxil and other behavior drugs are usually not necessary in a results-based training program. The drugs do not "relax the dog and help with training" like your vet/beehaivorista told you. The training helps relax the dog and teach it how to make appropriate choices and control.

A trained dog's spirit is not "broken." It is calm, controlled and focused. A dog that displays constant attention-seeking or appeasing behavior and is generally out-of-control is NOT "happy"; it is stressed, frustrated, anxious and dying for some direction and self-control in life.

Just to name some examples.