Sunday, 28 July 2013

Myths about positive trainers - 1 Positive trainers just advise difficult dogs are put to sleep

I honestly dont know when this myth started. I know lots of followers of a certain TV celeb seem to strongly believe he is the last chance for many aggressive dogs because other trainers would just have the dogs put to sleep.

This is as far from the truth as is possible. But before I go into that lets look at the fact that yes, many dogs are put to sleep

In the world today we have more dogs than we have homes for and so it is a sad fact that in some rescues some people have to make the difficult decision to put dogs to sleep.
That is not a failing of the rescues - and it has nothing to do with any trainers - positive or otherwise. The blame there is firmly on the heads of the people producing too many dogs.

Yes often it will be aggressive dogs or dogs of a certain type who are put to sleep, there are two reasons for this, it is harder to find good homes for these dogs, there are plenty of homes for small fluffy puppies so it makes sense when you have to free up space to go for the dogs that are unlikely to find a home anyway. Also if a dog has bitten in the past many re-homing centres have policies of not rehoming these dogs incase they bite again, not only would the people in the centre feel responsible they also may end up being sued and that will have a cost impact on how many dogs they can help in the future.

Some trainers may refuse to work with aggressive dogs, that does not mean they are saying the dogs need to be put to sleep, just that they either do not have the experience to work with this type of dog or their insurance does not cover them for this type of work.
That is fair enough, there are specialists in every walk of life, you dont go to a pet dog trainer to teach your dog to be an obedience champ, dont expect all dog trainers to be aggression specialists.

Referring you to someone else is NOT  saying the dog needs put to sleep.

For a behavioural issue you need a behaviourist (try the APBC in the UK, these people have to be qualified to a high level with lots of experience in the field as well - remember anyone can call themselves a behaviourist but not everyone has any qualifications in the subject)
A GOOD behaviourist wont even see you till you have seen a vet to rule out any medical issues.

So do behaviourists tell people to get their dogs PTS?
Lets think about this - someone whos job is to help dogs with behavioural issues telling people to put the dogs to sleep - do you think these people would actually be in a job long if they killed off all their clients?
When talking about options they may well mention it as an option - IF the owners dont feel they are willing or able to do the work required to help their dog. Even using punishment methods to 'fix' a dog takes time, the TV celeb often takes 'difficult' cases away with him to work with them over weeks or even months.

Issues like seen on TV shows are bread and butter to good positive behaviourists, you dont see thousands of films of them helping because it is actually very dull to watch, no man v beast fight, the dogs are kept calm and taught how to not only act calm but to BE calm around the thing that they used to be aggressive about.

If you still doubt positive trainers help aggressive dogs then have a look at all the literature that is out there to help people with problem dogs - I will link a few below

Control Unleashed
Click to calm
Feisty Fido
Calming signals
Scaredy dog
Stress in dogs 

Thousands of  positive dog owners quietly rescue and help difficult dogs all over the world, just get chatting to people ringside at an agility show or have a look at the many forums and facebook pages for positive training and you will see what an amazing supportive community there is for people helping others with difficult dogs


Friday, 5 July 2013

What is positive training to you - PDBAD
Check out the link above for other posts in this day

So for the first post in the positive dog bloggers action day I thought we should talk about what positive actually means to us
There is a whole lot of confusion about what 'positive training' actually is

For me personally it does not mean I only use positive reinforcements in my training (see the post on quadrants below) Yes I try and focus on them, but I dont need to get involved in arguments about if witholding a click is punishment or not

For me positive training is more about a state of mind. Traditional training sets up a dog to do the wrong thing and punishes them for that.
In my mind that is very negative, it is negative in that you are always seeing the bad in your dog, it is negative for your dog as working with you becomes stressful, always waiting to see if they have done wrong, and it actually has a negative effect on your dogs mental development, they actually use their brains less because doing things is punished

In positive training you are looking for your dog doing the right thing and finding ways to teach him to do things that you want. If you look for the positive you see exactly how often your dogs are actually good. For the past couple of hours my dogs have been napping and quietly pottering around the house.
At one point they barked at a noise outside for about 30s
I could focus on that negative and think how bad it is my dogs were barking - but really in 120 min my dogs did something I didnt like for 30s of that. Thats pretty good odds

And here is the extra good thing - positive dosent mean that I let them away with things I dont like. If a behaviour is something that I dont like rather than punishing them for it I can see it as a training exercise, I could desensitise my dogs to noise outside the house, I could teach them something else to do to alert me to noises outside, or, I could manage the situation and have the radio on so they are less bothered by noises outside - or of course if I liked being warned of people outside I could leave the behaviour and just ignore it or even reward it.

At no point do I actually have to punish my dogs for a natural behaviour that I may not like.

So to me a positive trainer is one who
Looks for the good in their dog and rewards that to make it more likely to happen and who trains the dogs alternative behaviours when they do something they dont like.
They train focusing on positive reinforcement, minimise negative punishment and avoid positive punishment and negative reinforcement.

Please remember and support the other posts on todays PDBAD


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