There Are No Secrets To Dog Training

imagesThere are no secrets to dog training, or weight loss, despite the endless amount of spam trying to sell both.

Good dog trainers who understand how to train dogs are like bad poker players grinning like fools and showing their hand with all the aces to the people sitting beside them. We want people to know how to change their dog’s behavior and can’t keep this a secret no matter how hard we try.

Many of us have chosen methods to do this that use little to no force or coercion. Some choose these techniques because ethically they think it’s how we should interact with animals in our care. Others choose them because they understand how effective they are. I work with a population of dogs that offers me little choice in the matter. Using force, pain or the threat of either with these dogs is contraindicated and counter productive in the long run.

I am not saying that either dog training or losing weight are without their challenges. The professional trainers I know, spend a lot of time and money learning how to deal with the challenges that arise with dogs. They learn to look for physical or medical causes for a behavior, no sense punishing a dog for not sitting when asked if their hips ache or if they can’t hear or see well. We explore ways to motivate dogs and identify what components of a dog’s life can be changed to increase the chances that we’ll get more of the behaviors we like and less of the ones we don’t.

You don’t need to be a dog psychologist to understand why dogs do what they do. There is no need to come up with either simple or elaborate stories, as interesting and compelling as these may be, to explain why dogs do what they do. If we keep seeing a dog perform a behavior we know they are doing so because they are being reinforced for it. If they are unwilling or reluctant to perform certain behaviors we know it is because they have been punished for performing the behavior. This, if there is a secret to sell, is it. It’s not always simple to tease apart the reinforcers and punishers in a dog’s life, but if you’re going to pay for anything, find a professional who can.


11 comments so far

  1. Linda Trunell on

    Haha – and I am indeed a lousy poker player. Because I love dogs I want to educate people. I am sure most PR trainers feel the same way. We want to debunk the whole dominance theory that is touted by uneducated “old school” trainers and fans of those “dog whisperers”. It is not a secret – I am always sharing the information whenever I can.

    • fearfuldogs on

      And no doubt you have made life better for dogs along the way!

      • Linda Trunell on

        As I am certain you have too 🙂

  2. Jamie Robinson on

    One of the ways to tell the websites of force trainers from R+ trainers is in how much education is going on versus how much ego is being shown.

  3. dogdaz on

    Very true. But you do have your secret and its what works for you.

    • Debbie on

      What works for me will work for anyone because it is based on how animals learn.

      Debbie Jacobs

  4. Bob Ryder on

    As usual, I read your thoughtful and beautifully articulated insights, nod my head, and think, “Why didn’t I say that.” Thanks!! =-)

    • Debbie Jacobs on

      Now you can say it Bob! Thanks for reading and helping dogs have a better life.

  5. Julie on

    Whenever I have personally helped someone get over major dog training hump in the road with their dog I just want to jump up and down, grin and run around in circles. Sometimes I do. And as you say, it’s no secret, it’s just science.

    • Debbie Jacobs on

      Feels pretty darn good doesn’t it!

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