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Effective Dog Training Methods
How do you define effective dog training methods? I know in the professional world we often get caught up in the scientific discussions of punishment and reinforcement and what constitutes effective use of each. That path of discussion can often lead to heated opinions of the necessity of punishment and for me that brings up the topic of the versatility of a remote collars. Are they only a tool of punishment as some assert?
More importantly, is the dog’s experience of a remote collar always that of punishment?
Is it always a “penalty imposed on an offender for a wrongdoing”? (definition taken from Websters New World College Dictionary)
Before you answer that question, let’s consider some other things that might typically be considered punishment when directed toward our dogs. Could I use a flyswatter as one of my tools for effective dog training methods?
What would you call it if you swat your dog with a flyswatter? Is it punishment?
What if you blast him with a squirt of water or hit your dog with a stick or shake noisy objects at them?
All punishment, correct? Right up there with shock collars…no if’s, and, or buts about it. You might even categorize them as effective dog training methods for punishment based training…
But, I happen to think differently. I believe what is aversive and punishing is defined by the recipient. And that the recipient’s expression of what is aversive is defined by the experience…which in the case of training dogs is created by the trainer.
If you wish to stay locked into the mindset that tools can only fit into one quadrant you may not want to watch the video below or bother to read further. Often what we “know to be true” is only true in our experience. It is false for someone else’s experience.
Stepping outside of our own paradigms can be disconcerting.
Ultimately, we have control over how our dogs perceive any tool we bring into the training scenario. We set the tone and create the experience. My dog’s react the way they do to these supposed “aversives” because of the way I introduced them and created their experience with the tools. Any good protection trainer, or bite sport competitor knows exactly what I’m talking about. A dog’s experience of any tool or situation is created through mindful application.
What made the difference? How come these “punishment” tools (water blasts, shake cans & flyswatter) don’t look very punishing to my dogs?
I believe the answer is: Intent.
Intent determines how one will use a remote collar or any tool and how it will be perceived by the dog. The mental attitude we take with us when we train will determine the majority of our outcome, regardless of our tool of choice.
My advice for anyone considering using a remote collar to train their dog is to check their intent before they put the collar on the dog or start pushing buttons.
If your intent is coming from frustration and wanting to “show the dog once and for all!” it needs to shift before you start training. Using the e-collar that way certainly fits the definition of shock collar and it is not what I want you to do.
Just as my dogs have learned that a blast of water, a flyswatter or a loud, noisy shake can means “play time” your dog can learn that the remote collar means fun learning together and interesting adventures to go on. If you’re interested in learning to use the tool as part of a balanced training program, you’re willing to spend the time and energy teaching your dog what to do rather than just what not to do, my guess is you’ll end up with a dog who loves his e-collar and is an eager and willing participant in your training time together.
It all starts with intent: Shock collar or remote training collar, it’s your choice of what kind of effective dog training method you want it to be.