Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Do You Train Your Dog with Kindness or Fear and Pain?


A well trained dog IS a well trained human's best friend
There seem to be two schools of though on how to train dogs.  Keep that in mind, because I am definitely of one mind, while there are others who think that terrorizing your dog is the way to go.

And hence, there are good dog trainers and bad trainers who have no clue how to truly communicate and work with an animal, because all it takes is patience to understand how your dog needs to be communicated with.  It's a two-way street.

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We were taught by an amazing Bay Area dog trainer that communicating with your dog and getting them to see, with words and tone, what's good and bad, is what really works best.  That way, the dog is actually willing to work with you and isn't doing it out of fear.

When we first met Trainer Trish, we had a new dog whose ADD energy levels was almost too much to handle.  Yet it took Trish about 5 minutes to teach us our first new skill and fix one issue that had been plaguing us, and she did it with behavioral rewards.  Not trauma.  And in her classes, it takes but moments to learn new ways to interact with your dog.  And with that patience and practice, all good things come to be.

Today, we have an incredible relationship with our dog because of Trish Wamsat.  And we're grateful.

On the other hand, I know one family whose dog may or may not be having the best quality of life.

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The other day my wife and I were at a park here in Menlo Park, (The Bay Area), practicing dog-disc skills with Vader (He came with the name.).  On the other side of the park, a family of four were being "taught" how to train their dog.

The man's methods of training included a pain inducing collar that he used to inflict pain, to "help" the animal learn what it was suppose to learn.  (Didn't prison guards used to use pain and suffering in the old days as ways to command inmates?)

The collar being used to control this wild beast was attached to a Golden Retriever, of all dogs.

Through most of my time at the park, I kept my back turned to the training session because I was worried how I would react if I watched this yahoo.  (That and I don't have enough for bail money.)

Just to get the dog's attention, he'd step up, grab the leash and yank hard on the leash announcing to the owners that now the dog knows you want to do something.  (Yep, I wanted to do something.)  And that's how the whole thing went.

After about an hour, there was a test, where all the dog had to do was be called over by one of its owners, who was about five feet away.  She called Riggins' name, the trainer let go of the leash-of-pain, and Riggins turned left and ran across the park to come meet us, or actually, meet Vader.

It was a huge Golden, but pretty sweet.  So much for all the "pain" training that went on.  I guess that the dog needed a break from it all.

So I said hi to the dog, pet him a bit, then quietly walked him part way across the park, (without any leash yanking) where I met the trainer and he took control back.  He said something, but sadly, I had tuned out on the guy.  I didn't want anything to do with his stupidity.

I turned my back and headed back to my dog, (who doesn't need any leash yanking) when I heard "it."  It, the one thing that almost set me off.  But it wasn't any of my business.

The trainer took Riggins, and while heading back to the family, every few steps, yanked hard on his leash, yelling at him BAD!, BAD!, BAD!, BAD!, for the entire walk back.  It's not a small park. 

First up, you need to catch the bad behavior immediately.  At that moment, the trainer seemed to be teaching (correlating to) the dog it was bad to walk with him back to his family.  Because honestly, what, right at that moment, was he doing wrong?

Seriously, were these dog owners that willing to let this guy treat their animal this way?  I was biding my time and waiting for the trainer to leave, but sadly, they all left the park together.  UG. 

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Dogs seem pretty willing to be part of our lives.  And from some of the ugly shit ways people handle their animals, dogs still want to be part of their lives.  Dogs are just that way.  Faithful... to a fault.

But these dogs become members of our family and I find it horrible in how some folks treat them. 

To me, it seems that when you train with kindness, the reward and attention is appreciated.

But when you punish with pain, it's a fine line because most punishment happens after the fact. And if any correlation is to be had, it needs to be that second, when it's happening, or the scolding is going to get associated with something other than the actual bad behavior.
 

Animals are here-and-now kind of creatures.  So when Riggins ran across the park, he got no chastising from anyone.  But when he was walking back, returning to his family, he was scolded hard during the entire walk back.

See the correlation?

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Sure, we all get mad at our dogs at times, but seriously, take a step back and notice that our dogs are just kids.  Kids that need guidance in what is right.  Not slammed upside the head.  It sends mixed signals, especially if not done at that very second.

My dog, if I say "Shame on You!!!" in my upset tone, he knows exactly what's going on, and it never takes more than twice (Maybe three times.) to inform him of an unacceptable behavior or deed.

This voice-tone trick or ours was taught to us by Trish.  And it's amazing how voice tone works.  I say "ours," because training is a set of tools for both humans and dogs, as a team.

If you live in or around the Bay Area region, you might want to contact Trish.  She is an awesome trainer and totally saved our asses when it came to our new dog that came into our family back in December!  And from some of her other deeds I see her do or care about, she's an awesome individual to boot.  (Don't tell her I said that.  She'll just get embarrassed about it.)

Her testimonials page:, contact page.

= -Bruce

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Hi - sorry for the confirmation but I need to weed out the noise from the well intended comments. Thanks for leaving a note... - Bruce