Fifteen years later, I am grateful to her for teaching me the most humane methods she knew. Since then, I have learned from many other professionals along the way through internships, training academies, reading research papers and clinical studies, and attending workshops and seminars. With this training and the years of experience I have accumulated training my own clients' and shelter and rescue group dogs, I have learned more and more humane and effective ways to train. Most people refer to this as positive dog training.
Just a Teensy Bit of Background (Really--a miniscule amount)
Positive dog training methods have been used by professionals since the 1950's, and probably by an enlightened few for as long as dogs have been domesticated. In the 1980's positive dog training started becoming more popular, and more and more trainers began to use it instead of the old-fashioned, punishment-based methods. Why? It's pretty simple really. Once a person understands that positive training methods work and how they work, if that person has respect and love for animals, she can't use the old-fashioned methods. It's impossible for us to hurt or scare the animals in our care when we know there is a better, more humane method for training. I have often said to my clients, "If you can achieve the same or better training results using positive methods, why would you choose to hurt or scare your dog into doing something for you?"
I'm not telling you anything new here. There's no innovative concept or exciting new message to share here. However, here's the really interesting piece: there are professional dog trainers who still use old-fashioned methods. They still choose to choke, pinch, bite, hang, kick, hit, scare or emotionally abuse animals to train them. (Look those methods up if you want to know more about them. I'm not going to horrify you [or myself] with their descriptions.)
I can sort of understand a pet owner still using these methods because they've been around a long time and have been propagated through popular t.v. shows and books. Humans have used punishment-based methods to change behavior for as long as we can remember. It's hard to change. I know that. Delivering punishment is actually rewarding to the punisher (a subject for another day or go ahead and look it up). However, I also know that you don't really want to do these things to your dog, cat, bird, horse, etc. if you really think about it. And, now that you know that there is a huge community of positive trainers and thousands of books and periodicals to learn from, you don't need to. Most of us will gladly answer any questions you have about positive training methods or direct you to sources that can help you understand it better.
I know you need equipment to walk and train with your dog, so I'll talk about training equipment in upcoming posts. I'll help you choose the equipment best for you and your dog.
Yes, There's Homework
So, now you have a choice. All I'm asking you to do is choose positive training methods for your pets. Whether you train them yourself or seek professional assistance.
They are counting on you.