I was out with Riggs this morning when we came across a group of canine guardians in a training class. I’ve come across this trainer before and his use of aversion training. Riggs and I kept going but on the way back from our long walk one woman and her dog caught my eye. I know better than to watch bad training but couldn’t help myself. I see the same woman and her dog regularly and wondered how well trained her dog was. It was quite obvious as I watched that the team was just starting out on their obedience.
As I loaded Riggs into the car I watched. The woman with the very large dog was trying to “down” her dog by physically manipulating it. A difficult task when your dog is large and stronger than you. The problem with conventional training a down (pushing your dog into a down) is that when you push they push back. It becomes a power struggle that we often lose.
I so badly wanted to go over to the woman and help her and her dog. With a pocket full of treats I could have had her dog down in a heartbeat. I teach 6 and 7 week old puppies to down, it’s really easy. As this woman struggled, she was alone…her teacher was not paying attention. The dog’s behavior got worse until he was quite literally out of control. He was becoming over stimulated and fighting back to her obedience attempts.
The woman finally called out to her trainer. “What do I do with this?” she asked and he replied “KNEE.” “No, not the knee” I thought to myself; knowing full well that it was going to go from bad to even worse. She did as she’d been told and the dog got even more out of control. At that point the trainer headed her way, not good. He very sternly told her dog off and gave the down hand signal. Okay… so not only was this aversive training, it was bad and confusing training for the dog. The dog did a down and his ears lowered, he was worried about the guy who was being aggressive towards him.
The dog was wearing a pinch/prong collar so I knew what was coming next. That was my cue to leave, so off we went heading for home. I was so shaken by this training scenario. I know that conventional aversive training is out there but to see people using it just seems unreal in this day and age. I guess when you are surrounded by positive training as I am you forget that some people just don’t know. And, then there are trainers who are steadfast in their historic training methods. They will not change for anyone and stand strong in their beliefs. Sad.
Training should be fun and it is never fun for any dog to be yanked and pushed around. This type of training puts guardians and trainers in a really angry state. You can see it happening when you watch it. There is nothing about the thought process and figuring out road blocks which is what positive training is all about.
So please…for the sake of your dog, don’t go the aversion route. And, like I always say… “if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.”
Give your dog a smooch for me. ;)