In case you haven’t heard, a video taken of a Singaporean dog owner causing her own dog severe distress at a pet competition has gone viral.
It’s hard to convince a traditional dog trainer that there is a better and more positive way of communicating with your dog. This is because once people make up their minds, it’s very hard to change them. Dog owners who believe in punishment-based training often tout the ‘dominance over dogs’ argument, and believe wholeheartedly in the effectiveness of their training methods. Why fix it if it isn’t broken, they argue.
Here are some of the actual statements made by people in a local forum who believe in this:
About kneeing a dog in the chest to prevent jumping: “Is like a prong or choker. Ppl who dunno how to use abuse n injure the dog. Ppl who uses it correctly benefits greatly wif a happy dog.” — SatanGal
About being alpha: “When my doggie misbehave, i use a roll newspaper beat his backside and stare hard and yell at him… but he still growl back at me.. is he alpha?” — Arthline
About training commands for ‘Sit’ and ‘Down’: “I suggested that she tried a prong collar on him so that he would give her better attention. This is his second lesson. He was a lot calmer this week. Walked very nicely on her side and could even sit and lie down during our place mat exercise, something he cldn’t do at the start of the lesson.” — A local dog trainer
About stopping a behavior, such as scratching: “Talking about balloon dog, one owner ties balloons on the back of the doors, so when the dog scratch the balloon burst with a “POP” and self correct the behaviour. Brilliant move.” — themilkbone
“Fearing the “corrections” that result when they make mistakes, they [the dogs] seem to learn that the safest course is to do nothing unless and until they’re told to do something” — Pat Miller on punishing your dog during training
When you argue about effectiveness of a training method, then this discussion is tied. Traditional and positive training methods are both effective. Both can get you to the end result that you want. Your dog will sit, stay, go down, twirl a finish, jump up, stop a jump, and more, just on your command. The only difference is, with traditional punishment-based training, your dog will tend to have issues, and there is also a high chance that the bond between you and your dog will be greatly lessened.
“I can’t think of a single scenario, outside of a training context, in which any decent human being would knowingly inflict pain on his or her dog. So why do we make excuses when it’s “in the name of training”? Abuse is abuse, right?” says dog trainer Kelly Cottrell on her blog.
“Trainers, behaviorists, and dog owners are realizing that this is more than just a philosophical difference, or a conflict between an ethic that says we should be nice to animals versus a more utilitarian approach to training,” states Pat Miller on her blog Peaceable Paws. Miller is one of the world’s best positive dog trainer, and is one of the most vocal supporter of positive reinforcement training.
“While both methods can produce well-trained dogs, the end result is also significantly different. With positive training, the goal is to develop a dog who thinks and works cooperatively with his human as part of a team, rather than a dog who simply obeys commands,” she asserts. “Positive trainers report that dogs trained effectively with coercion are almost universally reluctant to offer behaviors and are less good at problem-solving. Fearing the “corrections” that result when they make mistakes, they seem to learn that the safest course is to do nothing unless and until they’re told to do something.”
At Up For Paws, we advocate positive reinforcement and force free dog training. To us, it’s more than just obedience training. It is a way to communicate with your dog for the rest of its short life, so that it may enjoy its time here on Earth with you, the most amazing human being your dog has ever known.
What do you think? Share your thoughts with us.
This post originally appeared here.
Jun Yeo is the owner of Up For Paws, a dog daycare that believes in positive reinforcement, responsible dog ownership, and a dog-friendly Singapore city for the win! She can be contacted at email@example.com.