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Giving cookies to dogs doesn’t work, right?

Getting more than compliance from your dog.

Giving cookies to dogs doesn’t work, right?

Chantal Mills 1 comments

When I was a so-called traditional trainer, when I first started training dogs, I really did not understand how using food in training could be as effective as what I was doing. I’ll be frank – I thought only the weak had to revert to using food.  Ah… how wrong I was!

I will NEVER say that punishment doesn’t work. I use it too. Ignoring a dog that wants your attention is punishment. Taking away an item your dog is guarding, is an example of punishment. Harsher punishment also works, and works awfully well. I know, I used it on my dog and taught others to do it with their dog. I also didn’t think I was hurting any dogs, nor did I ever consider it a problem if I made them uncomfortable in any way. In fact, I was untrained in recognizing the signs of discomfort and stress in a dog.

I continued to learn. That insatiable thirst to know more and more and more wouldn’t leave me. Though reluctant at first, I let my mind consider other ways to train a dog, and I allowed myself to consider training options that involved food. It was not easy to unlearn things I so fervently believed. It took a lot of time for me to let go of concepts and approaches that had made up the basis of how I operated. Even my dog was confused. But, I persevered. I really wanted to “get it”. My dog adapted and the changes I saw in him are what made me decide that I could not go back to what I was doing.

Today, I look for more than just compliance from my pets. That used to be the golden standard and what I used to get from my dog Everest. To get him to comply, I had to give a leash correction and I needed a prong. I don’t care about compliance any longer.  Nope. I strive for cooperation. I allow my dog to choose to engage with me and you know what? when you remove the threat of an aversive, that possibility of a correction no matter how light you make it, it is amazing how willing that animal becomes. That may be difficult for some to relate to. I expect that. Believe me, I would have scoffed at that notion 10 years ago. It may feel like you are relinquishing control. I get it. I would have thought so too a decade ago. However, today, I see that a relationship based on cooperation is not only kind and humane, but more powerful than a relationship based on avoidance.

My dog used to “talk back” to me a lot, but at least he did what I asked him to do. How is that success? I want more than a dog going through the motions just because I asked him to. Do I have all the answers? Nope. I wish. But I will never stop my quest for knowledge, I will continue learning from my mistakes, and I will strive to keep an open mind since that is what got me here in the first place.

Here is a blog entry from a fellow dog trainer that is well worth the read.

But We Don’t Give Our Kids a Cookie Every Time they Tie Their Shoes!

1 Comment

Donna and Madison

September 12, 2016 at 9:02 pm

Sometimes taking a dog training course doesn’t lead to a dog training career. Life’s compass can lead you to other matters. That being said, this is the most valuable thing I have done for myself and my dog. My past life dogs were raised on a choke and suffered the consequences of the lead jerk. There was never an intention of being cruel, it was just the information that was out there 30 years ago. Old habits can be hard to break until you have those ‘aha’ moments when all the education and hands on and watching well trained educators shape what training today should really look like. I am a better person for this education. My dog is happier. My friends listen to my thoughts and suggestions. It really does take a village to raise a dog. Thank you Chantal, for your compassion, your genuine love of canines and your tenacity in promoting this training as a lifestyle. This way is easier on the heart.

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