Wow, this has become quite the heated debate. I believe strongly in "when you know better you do better" - and everyone is doing the best with what their experience has taught them.
It is hard to disagree with any training method based on positive treatment of the animal. However, if the human relies on devices or treats to communicate with a dog - the dog relies on it as well and it can be much harder to get off leash at 'college' level (i.e. distractions). Few dogs are going to come away from playing with other dogs for a scrap of hotdog. So people often say you have to have better treats for those occasions, well what if the guy next to you has even better treats? Is my dog going to go to him instead?
We have worked with award winning obedience dogs who are great in the ring working for liver, but get them home and ask them to do something and they look at you waiting for the next bit of liver - not willing to do anything until they see the food first. I do not consider that a well trained dog.
A person should treat their dog for being a friend - but the dog should be working for the human out of relationship - love, trust and respect - through my voice, hands and body language.
Most 'gimmicks' work out of force or bribery, and I don't want anyone I have a relationship with to be with me for those reasons. Clickers can be great for animals who are not relationship oriented, i.e. a Komodo Dragon - who could care less about you as a friend, but is willing to perform for a mouse.
Dogs are hard wired to have leadership in their lives- so why not maximize that? It's why I have dogs - to have relationship with an animal I adore and respect. I want my children to cooperate with me out of love and respect, not because I am offering them candy or forcing them.
Many of our clients come to us because they are not happy with devices or bribery and find that relationship training is fast, effective and hands off. You don't have to carry anything with you because you always have relationship ready at hand.
We have a Petsmart training program here and I have heard goods & bads about it. Our local lead trainer at Petsmart has been with them for a year and feels that he has gotten everything he can from what they offer - so he has asked us to take him to the next level so he can offer better classes to his clients, because he cares about being the best he can be. In the end the person teaching you makes all of the difference. Petsmart is doing the best they can with what they know right now. It is not easy to hire people and train them to be trainers without a 'gimmick' of sorts.
Love Them & Lead Them,
~Elizabeth & Doug
Dog Training the Way Nature Intended
Last edited by tenderfoot; November 8th, 2004 at 10:21 PM.