Certain dog training fraternities throughout the world will repeat almost ad nauseum various so called “facts” about dog training and dog behaviour.Yet in fact these are dog training myths made to make them sound knowledgeable and holier than thou.
I will be adding to the list as i find them.
I would almost call their comments fraudulent. I would certainly call them false.
Dog Training Myths 1
- Dogs want to please
This mat sound harsh but its 100% true.
Dogs do not want to please! They are a selfish ,do whats only good for them animal.
Thats why positive reinforcement works! Because it works for the dog. They don’t perform a behaviour to please YOU they do it in the hope they will receive a reward which pleases THEM
Rather than me typing out the whole spiel have a look here https://www.dogtrainingismypassion.com/blog/dogs-dont-want-to-pleasevhe says it way better than me
Dog Training Myths 2
- No such thing as dominance in dogs.
We all have heard of victoria stilwell tv personality so call dog trainer. for years she has debunked dominance in dogs
BUT now it seems she has changed her tune .Sometimes it takes a while for the wool to be lifted off ones eyes
Certain groups will say this in defense of their own training methods. They will lead you to believe that because dogs can not be dominant therefore using coersive methods ( leash corrections) are old, misinformed actions used by “punishment” based trainers. To say that dogs have missed out on having a social hierachy as all other animals do, leaves me scratching my head.With us humans we have traits.One of them is one of dominance.You will find that these people seem to be the best leaders or bosses.The one that takes control. If a dog senses weak leadership in its pack ( us humans) it can try to step up to take that leadership role. They will quickly change from talking about a dominant dog to referring to the human as dominating and forcing a dog to do things.
A dominant dog has leadership qualities and if we the owners do not give a dog leadership he will naturally take over that role.By leadership i mean rules and boundaries to abide by.People will say the dominance theory proposed by Schenkel (1947) was flawed because he studied wolves in an unnatural surrounding. These are the same people who will tell you positive training works on dolphins , killer whales and elephants. You know the killer whales and elephants that are so called trained yet kill their trainers/handlers .The same animals that are kept in swimming pools and small pens. Is that a natural environment?
So they can use the theory in one way but not the other to suit their own agenda.
- If you don’t train using positive methods you are a dominance based trainer
For the last 10 -15 years the “positive” , “non aversive ” group of dog trainers has increased. Using comments like
They refuse to use any sort of aid that will inform the dog of what is right or wrong. They state they reject aversive methods yet refrain from giving their dog a treat for doing something wrong. That is an aversive!
They will take the extreme cases of so called dominance based training and reiterate over and over again. I am still looking for one of these trainers in Adelaide.Hitting dogs,rolling dogs on to their backs,hanging dogs, i just cant seem to find one that does all this.But yet they infer that trainers that use all 4 quadrants of the operant condition theory are punishment based all because they don’t train “their” way. I would imagine that in 10 years time they will still be spilling out this nonsense word for word.
- Correcting a dog can make your dog aggressive
First of all they use the word can. Not will. Let me tell you about corrections. Mother nature dishes corrections out all the time to animals . How many times do you think a dog would for example play with a porcupine? Or a skunk? ONCE. After that he would know that the consequence of doing so is not in its best interests. Does the dog become aggressive because of this. I think not. Yes Mother Nature can be quite cruel sometimes.
The proponents of “Positive Training” will say look at that dog how aggressive he is.Well sorry to tell you but that’s how we get some dogs. We didn’t make them that way. Their owners came to us for help. Because “the positive training regime” wont take them. They only accept “friendly” dogs.
A correction is a punishment. Just the same as you get punished for speeding if you get caught.Do you become aggressive because you got caught speeding or got snapped by a red light camera? No you actually stop doing the action that caused you the punishment. The same as a dog. It is unfair to correct a dog if it doesn’t know what it is doing wrong. It will confuse them. But as trainers it is our duty to make sure that a dog understands what needs to be done. Being consistent and fair. In seven years of training countless dogs i have yet to see a dog become aggressive due to well timed fair corrections.NEVER
Dog Training Myths 3
- Punishment teaches a dog nothing
Nicholas Dodman, Professor and Program Director, Animal Behaviour Department, Tufts University says:
“I think that the direct punishment-based techniques are outmoded, a thing of the past and should be avoided. Nobel Prize winners Lorenz, Tinbergen and Von Frisch might have disagreed on some points but the three of them were all in agreement that punishment teaches a dog nothing. All it does is to teach a dog how to avoid the punishment. Which is not the same as teaching the dog what to do. There is no learning, other than learning avoidance of certain actions…I work on the theory that if you can train a killer whale to launch itself out of a swimming pool, roll on its side and urinate into a small plastic cup, given only a whistle and a bucket of fish, without a choke chain, then you don’t need those confrontational techniques with dogs“
- Punishment only makes the problem worse
The Australian Veterinary Association spokes person and media personality Dr Katrina Ward, states
I would like to know how and with what expertise Dr Ward can make this blanket statement? All I can say is lucky dogs (and for that mater any social pack animal) that acts on their ‘natural’ instincts can’t read this.. No pack would survive and would therefore eventually wipe out the species!
- Aversive control is dangerous and will lead to some imagined harm.
In the war over ethical training techniques there is a boogeyman – imagined harm. Trainers that pander to exclusively “positive” methods use this boogeyman to suppress logical and open discussion of the topic. That is because their perspective has no rational basis and cannot become paramount unless they suppress logical criticism. Their primary tool is to propose that any use of aversive control is dangerous and will lead to some imagined harm. That is obviously an irrational statement. A leash and collar inhibits free movement and compels the dog to hold an arbitrary distance from the handler. Not only is this not automatically harmful, all trainers, vets, shelter workers and pet owners use leashes and collars – even the anti-punishment ideologues. This begs the question of why someone would propose a wide-sweeping claim that the most casual observation contradicts. The answer may surprise you. They do this because it allows them to create the fantasy that they are ethically superior while silencing anyone who would question their statements. i.e. The anti-punishers promote imagined harm in order to win the argument.
The first sentence is a prime example of removal of context and a false dichotomy. They have created a straw man who uses only punishment, all the time. The two types of punishment they offer are leash corrections and scolding – relatively mild forms of punishment. If leash corrections and scolding are somehow harmful then all dogs in Australia have been harmed because they wear collars and inevitably hit the end of a leash, if only by accident. This leads to several obvious questions. Why would using such moderate punishments automatically imply that one uses only punishment? (The stress on the neck from veterinary technicians and shelter workers attempting to subdue fractious dogs often exceeds anything that a trainer would do, even our imagined “all punishment” trainer.) Why would leash corrections and scolding be able to stop every behavior other than acceptable behaviors? If they are capable of that power and all dogs experience these things (apparently to no purpose) why wouldn’t a rational person use scolding and leash corrections as a part of their training protocol? If the unacceptable behaviors stop, why would they straw man continue to punish the dog?