Confrontational Techniques Elicit Aggression

scarlet tanager 5-13

Remember the movie Groundhog Day, in which Bill Murray wakes up every morning to repeat the same day, over and over? That is a bit of what it feels like to write about the value of benevolence in dog training, and the problems associated with aggressive, confrontational techniques. And yet, I just can't stop, because there is still a flood of advice about using force and confrontation to correct a dog for ..... (fill in the blanks).... because 1) misbehavior is a sign your dog is attempting to dominate you and 2) you can only counter it by using force. Sigh. Those of us arguing that we should be teaching our dogs, rather than forcing and threatening them, have an excellent study by Veterinary Behaviorists to support our perspective. Meghan Herron, DVM, DACVB, Frances Shofer, DVM and Read More

Favorite “Non-Traditional Cues,” Part II

Polly in Tree 10-12

Wow. You all are amazing. So far there have been 165 answers to the question posed two weeks ago, "What's Your Favorite Non-Traditional Cue?" I've read through every one of them with great interest (and often amusement). My plan was to go through all the comments, list every cue mentioned with it definition (some people included as many as 7 or 8), and see if I couldĀ  find some patterns. Several hours later, and less than a fifth through all the cues mentioned, I suspected that a smart person might want to modify the plan. So that's what I've done, whether either out of laziness or wisdom, I couldn't tell you. I'm using the list I've generated so far as a sample, and have re-read all the rest of the comments that have been so thoughtfully provided. Here's what I'm seeing so far: Read More

What’s Your Favorite “Non-Traditional” Cue?

Sheep by Road 9-12

A few weeks ago I wrote a post on the cue "Get Back," which is one of my favorites because it is so useful in so many contexts. Katie Martz, Communications Coordinator here at PMcC, video taped Willie getting back in a variety of contexts, and we noticed that every time I said "Get Back" in a context in which he'd rather not, he tongue flicked. That led to a very interesting discussion with readers about why he was tongue flicking, but distracted us from the reason we did the taping: the usefulness of "non-traditional" cues in dog training. Yes, we all need Come, and Sit and Stay; I can't imagine what I would do without them. But there are a variety of cues that are equally useful, but not as common or well known. I thought it would be fun to canvass readers to learn about their favorite Read More

Using Positives to Decrease Negatives

red camel sister

Here's something interesting I learned while working on a talk I'll be giving at the Annual Conference of the Wisconsin Association of Behavior Analysis on August 15th in Madison. My talk is "Creating Harmony Between Dogs and Special Needs Children," and it involves discussing the benefits to the family of having a dog, but also the risks to the dogs that need to be addressed and minimized as much as possible. As we all know, even parents of typical children sometimes struggle with interactions between their children and their dog, and things can be even harder for parents of children with special needs. While working on my talk I read a research paper that is relevant to dog training in general, even though the case study was about changing the behavior of a child with Autism Spectrum Read More

Simply Wrong

flowers barn 7-12

I don't know about you, but anytime I hear a dog training product described as "revolutionary," I get worried. And for good reason. Have you heard about the new "revolutionary way" to walk your dog? It's called SimpleLeash, and it is guaranteed to work on "dogs of all sizes and temperaments." What's the revolutionary idea? Your dog gets a shock if he pulls on the leash. Ah, but it's not called a shock. I couldn't find the word shock anywhere on their website. No, no shocks here, just a "harmless correction stimulus," that intensifies the harder your dog pulls. There is simply nothing for the owner to do, the collar automatically does it all! Thus, the SimpleLeash. "You literally don't do a thing except hold the end of the leash." Well, maybe one more thing, like scrap up the puddle Read More