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Old March 18th, 2009, 03:54 PM
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Lynne_B Lynne_B is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Calgary, AB
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Quoting various pieces of the article...

"Along with using punishment, force, and aversive tools, many trainers, owners, and handlers opt to use dominance-based hierarchy techniques to train dogs. This method is merely a facade for using intimidation techniques, in which behaviors are suppressed by the human assuming an “alpha” role though punishment."

HUGE misconception here. Alpha is not gained through punishment. In the training that I follow (Brad's for those that don't know), alpha is gained in many ways. Being more confident, adjusting your posture, umbilical exercises, eating before the dog, going through doors and up stairs first, not letting them up on the furniture, there are many others as well. None involve punishment. Mostly body language, interruption of unwanted behaviour, for example, blocking them from going past you when going up the stairs, picking up your pace on a walk if they are pulling or changing directions. If you give the command to sit, and the dog doesn't do it right away, you don't repeat commands and lift up lightly on the leash.

"Although in some cases there are immediate responses, assuming an “alpha” status in a domestic environment can cause suppression of both desired and threatening behaviors, which commonly resurface with greater intensity. “The whole dominance idea is so out of proportion that entire schools of training are based on the premise that if you can just exert adequate dominance over the dog, everything else falls into place. This is dangerous."

Of course it's dangerous, if there are behavioural issues that need to be worked out, it's not all going to be solved by being the alpha. It helps, but it won't solve some behaviours, especially when aggression is involved. You do that by trying to understand the cause of the behaviour, and then working on solving it through interruption, conditioning, and other methods.

"Not only does it mean that incredible amounts of abuse are going to be perpetrated against any given dog...” (Donaldson, 19)."

Hooey! Ms. Donaldson should be professional enough to know that when you make an assumtion about a certain method, all that does is make an out of you and me.

"Moreover, humans displaying dominance behaviors conflict with the human-canine bond “If you think your acting-out dog is the leader and you try to emulate his behavior in controlling him, what you are really doing is acting aggressively towards him. This way of thinking is not useful in trying to maintain a positive relationship or good training environment” (Dennison 22). "

If I was emulating my dog, I'd be mounting dogs at the park to be the boss and barking at them when they're behaving badly. Doesn't exactly send the right message to the public . Some trainers will say to growl at their dogs, but I specifically remember asking Brad about that, and him saying, well, that's kind of silly, we don't speak dog so what are you actually telling him when you growl, you might send the wrong message.

"Conflicting messages often occur when owners exhibit dominance during training without being anatomically equipped like a canine."

Don't know if I want to touch that one

"Undesired behaviors are challenged when the owner punishes a behavior that is an absolutely natural ritualized display for the dog without teaching an alternative. “For instance a dog is punished for jumping up when greeting people faces a conflict because it is motivated to greet the person but expects punishment if it does” (Reid, 123)."

Dogs are fully capable of greeting someone without jumping. I may interrupt my dog from jumping, but it doesn't mean that he can't greet. If I step on the leash, he can't jump up, gets an immediate interruption if he does, yet the visitor can stick out their hand for him to sniff if he's calm and sitting, so therefore the alternative is being taught even though by Reid's definition, the dog is being punished when the leash is tightened.

"Since fear-based alpha methods require dominance-based techniques, they are also not safe for children to practice. "

Alpha methods are not fear based, they are based on being a leader, and some are safe for children to practice, assuming they are old enough and have supervision. A child is fully capable of lifting gently on a leash for a dog to sit. I would think that it's highly unsafe for a child to be feeding the dog treats to train, as there is a high probability of getting accidentally bitten by an exhuberant puppy.

"Dominance trainer Jan Fennel confesses: “ Young children are clearly not going to be able to grasp the principles of my method instantly.”(Fennell 63)."

Yes, this sounds like a "confession". Jeez. Young children aren't going to grasp the concepts of ANY method instantly.

"Since children are not capable of physically pushing, pulling or prodding dogs into a desired position, it is easier to show them how to lure a behavior using a reward, as commonly seen when teaching a dog to sit by lifting a treat."

This wasn't said by Ms. Fennel of course, see my comments above on kids and training.

"The use of forceful punishment techniques, painful training tools, and hierarchy based dominance methods is no longer justifiable for training the working or companion dog today. "

It's justifiable in my house to alpha train, and I don't use painful training tools. My dog is a fantastic companion.

"Donaldson’s approach to training is researched and realistic in contrast to the hierarchy-based methods practiced by Fennel, who states that: “... my method cannot remove the aggressive tendencies of any dog... my methods will never be able to alter their potentially savage nature. What my methods can do is allow people to manage their dogs so that this aggressive instinct is never called upon” (Fennel, 06). "

How is Fennel's statement less researched and realistic? What Fennel said is absolutely true, and Donaldson is being unrealistic if she thinks that she can remove the aggressive tendency of any dog. A dog that has aggressive tendencies can be taught to say, greet and interact with other dogs properly, but that aggressive nature can never be removed or rehabilitated. It's part of being a dog. What she was trying to say that by using methods such as interruption, the owner can teach their dog how to interact without being aggressive, or feeling the need to be. Every dog, no matter what their demeanor, will bite if given the right reason. You as the owner have the responsibility of making sure they never have that reason.

"Trainers, owners, and handler should consider giving back to their dogs, after they have been “man’s best friend” for decades. Luckily, the scientific study of animal behavior has made it possible for humans to continue bonding with their canines for centuries to come: “The prevailing winds, in fact, would make it our responsibility to have a clue about the basic needs of the species we are trying to live with as well as a clue about how to modify their behavior, with as little wear and tear on them as possible, so that they fit into our society without totally subjugating their nature” (Donaldson, 11)."

This is one of the main principles of what Brad taught us. Meet and exceed the needs of your dog, create a strong bond of love and friendship, and reward good behaviour. Work hard at training, make sure they get enough mental and physical stimulation, and have fun!