If you were to get several dog trainers into the same room, within minutes they would be arguing about the right and wrong techniques for how to properly train your dog. I stand back and watch scenes like this and I’m always amazed at how different all their approaches sound–and sometimes I am really surprised to see that they actually are different. Most of the time though, the actual physical actions are almost identical! I think I have decided that to keep my sanity, and to not end social situations on awkward terms with people I don’t need to communicate on a deeper level than purely a fleeting social “Hi-how-are-you” basis, that I will refrain from delving into the finer points of dog training, politics, and Religion. Along with Child Rearing, Dog training should be one of those subjects that is considered off-limits in a social gathering. Especially for a dog trainer.
If you are talking to another trainer, they are usually criticizing another training method, and thinking that only what they are doing is the right thing and all the other tools or methods every one else is doing are stupid, harmful, or abusive. Or, there is the non-trainer who because he is knowledgeable in his field is now trying to explain his “theories” about how he has trained his own dog to understand his every word. (The dog is usually never there, of course–and if the dog is there he is usually oblivious to the owner because “he get’s so excited when other people/animals/(You chose a reason)are around.”)Reality is funny like that. And that is why I designed a training system that takes reality in to account when expecting results. I just thought it would be a good thing to do. Instead of tons of specifics that eat up weeks of time and give you little utility, I focus on the few vital things that your dog needs to know and to be able to do in any circumstance to be with you out in the Real World. Notice I didn’t say win a dog show, or that you can only expect to work in the privacy of your living room, or the attentiveness you get right before you set his food bowl on the floor. I am talking real life people, places, traffic, noises, screaming kids, crosswalks, offices, parks, other dogs, and squirrels galore.
The real world that I live in is full of things happening that I can’t always plan or control. And if I don’t think that my companion can take my directions in those times, being together in my world is going to be really stressful and even dangerous for both of us. That is why most dogs spend the majority of their brief lives confined in kennels, back yards, or left at home. A great fulfilling life for a fellow “Social Creature” like ourselves, huh?
Don’t worry if you’re not a Dog Trainer. I’ll let you in on a little secret; Some of them are no better off. In recent years, with the emergence of new training methods wary of being labeled abusive, they swung the pendulum to the other extreme, ideologically committed to an unrealistic view of reality, they limit their training to certain “Positive Only” parts of a complete and balanced approach. This all looks good on paper, and conjures up all kind of warm feelings. Some people think that because the dog learns how to do a command using treats as primary motivation in an otherwise stimulus free environment (Read: the living room) They are then expecting him to DO what he learned out in the real world. There is a big disconnect between what they learn and actually doing what they learned.
Half of a Good Approach is Not Enough
I described this common error as using the “Positive Only” part of a balanced approach. . You may want to believe it will work, and you’ll spend lots of time and energy “Training” for it to work, but it rarely delivers better results than if you had skipped the training altogether and spent the time doing something productive–like going for a walk. I am no stranger to the frustration that comes from investing time and effort into something and come away from it feeling like you wasted your time–if you doubt me take a good look at my hair. I digress…
I have no argument with treats. I love them too. You want me to help you move a chest of drawers or a sofa, offer me some jerky and see what happens. I get it. I use treats all the time to teach new behaviors. I use every tool I have available. My point is that my “tool box” has lots more in it than milkbones, and if it didn’t, I couldn’t have created the only method out there that delivers these kind of fast results to people with no previous experience in dog handling.
As H. L. Mencken put it, “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”
But back to reality. There is a part of dog training that takes place in a Learning Phase. There are well intentioned people out there who never move out of this Phase and call it “Positive Training.” It makes a good warm fuzzy feeling inside the dog lover, but the results are not so good. They have elevated a small piece of the training puzzle to a complete training methodology, and the end results are not living up to the hype. The Human equivalent of this approach would be the “Self Esteem” movement back decades ago that was first implemented in the California School Systems. Everything was Positive. Every answer was Right (in its own way). The students didn’t sit and listen to to the teacher, they were encouraged to speak about what they thought about the subjects before they even knew the subjects. They didn’t want to damage the healthy self esteem they thought they were fostering. Examples include changing testing standards for economically disadvantaged children or eliminating valedictorians from high school graduations. Two plus two equaling Five was not Wrong, it was just a different and original way to approach the problem! Very impressive Johnny! You get the idea…
Not only did it not give kids better self esteem , it planted the seeds of the biggest educational decline in our history. Now instead of having top flight universities now full of young Americans who were prepared to lead the world in science and technology, we have those top universities full of kids from China and India who will lead the world. But what about the Positive only results? The result in this example are kids whose test scores can barely scrape the bottom of the list of all developed countries, and even though they are testing out at levels that are barely literate in science and math, studies show that if you ask them how they rate in comparison to other students from around the world, they unabashedly tell you that they they are #1! Go USA!!
This isn’t self esteem. It is ignorant false confidence. It is lack of awareness born of delusion and false perception. We have let these kids down just as we have our dogs by shielding them from everything but the fun and positive, and the result is a clash with reality on a grand scale. Don’t end up like the people who have wasted years of stuck in the kindergarten stage of a partial training program and still can’t bring the dog into their daily life.
The Real World. That is where Command Performance Dog Training System has delivered the goods for over 20 years. These are real people using a simple (too simple) method that works every time. Just you, the dog, some comfortable shoes, and 10-20 minutes. If you have never experienced the program, feel free to read the reviews of those who have.
Nothing I have ever tried since gives the level of results gained for the few minutes invested, and that is why people still swear by this method. After 20 years, I think we still may be onto something.