So, I was at one of my favorite dog parks last night and I happened to see a dog owner working with a dog trainer. Dude had a beautiful blue nose pit bull and was working on some long range recall stuff. I couldn’t believe it, but the trainer was one of those “positive reinforcement” dog trainers. Now, I know that most dogs are highly food-motivated, but really, training a pit bull to be food motivated? I really have to question the methodology of dog trainers sometimes.
I hopped online last night and searched for a trainer that I had seen a YouTube video from not that long ago. Took me a minute to find him, but the guy’s name is Brett Endes and he owns The Dog Savant in the Los Angeles area. Check him out at www.dogtrainingla.com. Nothing but value comes out of his mouth when he publishes YouTube vids. If you have a dog and you are ever in need of some “real” training tips and expertise, kindly do yourself a favor and subscribe to his YouTube channel. A quick glance at his testimonials page and you’ll see that he even works with celebrities looking for dog training in Los Angeles. Pretty cool to see that if I must say so myself.
It had been a while since I had navigated over to his site, but I happened to see that there was a promo picture for a new web series that he is going to be releasing soon. Totally got me all excited because I feel like the free knowledge bombs are going to be dropping on the weekly! I also saw something mentioned about a guest appearance by Brett on the Hallmark channel’s Home & Family Show tomorrow, Sept. 16th. I set the DVR cuz I’m totally totally going to be working for the man when the show is live. The beauty of technology. Shoot, I might even try and sneak away and fire up my DirecTV app to watch it live. May have a little indigestion tomorrow if you know what I mean…
Not really sure where I’m going with this post other than I was stoked to see some real value coming in the dog training industry. Maybe I’ll just dish on the whole idea of positive reinforcement training for a while.
The real problem with all-positive dog training is there will most certainly come a time when the distractions that a dog is faced with are more interesting to the dog than the high value reward (treats) the handler is presenting for obedience to a command. It is at that point in time that the dog must learn that there are consequences for not following direction from the handler.
The purpose for using corrections in dog training is to change a dog’s behavior, not to punish a dog for inappropriate or bad behavior. It is important to note the subtle difference here. Another important concept is that dogs of different temperament require differing levels and kinds of corrections. One size simply does not fit all here.
Much like people, dogs are individuals as well. A correction which results in a behavior change for one dog may have no effect on a different dog. The simple act of withholding a toy or food reward for many dogs may produce behavior changes, while an off-leash, high-drive dog confronted with a strong distraction may require a stiff remote collar correction in order to achieve changes in behavior.
Dogs of differing temperaments require different kinds of corrections and the type of distraction which a dog faces will often dictate the kind and level of correction a dog needs to get a behavior change. In essence, you must adjust your correction intensity for each individual dog and situation.
All-positive trainers simply do not get it. They attempt to simply the entire training process no matter which dog they are presented with. If you take a moment to let that statement sink in you’ll notice just how ridiculous the concept is. Environments, much like training, are hardly ever static. Why you would ever want to only have one tool in your bag when the building project requires multiple tools to achieve completion. Cookie cutter approaches to dog training attempt to simply dog training thereby taking much of the thinking out of training. The reality is that you must be consistent with your methods and willing to put in the time to properly achieve results. Like anything else, practice is the key.