I just got off the phone with my Friend Diane Bauman, one of the worlds most respected Dog Training Authorities.
Diane is on the US World Team in Dog Agility Sport, and has spent several decades sitting atop Dog Training’s “A” List, winning some of Competitive Dog Training’s most coveted titles with an assortment of dog breeds that most other professionals would dismiss as unsuitable for obedience competition. While the other pros are tuning up the typical assortment of top bred Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds, Diane is showing up with an unlikely assortment of Afghan hounds, Cocker Spaniels, Pomeranians, Keeshonds, and walking away with the trophys!
And did I mention these champions were once “throwaways” rescued from local animal shelters?
Dianne’s star student–an Afghan Hound–is currently ranked 1st in the Top 10 Least Intelligent Dogs? This is a story that is a cross between Rocky and Flowers for Algernon…
Enter Diane Bauman:
I love me some Diane! And even though we don’t get to talk as often as I would like, every time we get on the phone, our conversations last for hours!
Diane is a trainer’s trainer. She’s authored several books on the subject, and her innovative methods are taught to professional and amateurs in her seminars across the country. Her specialized techniques are even touted by most other leading Dog Training Authorities–like the Monks of New Skete in the international best selling book “How to be Your Dogs Best Friend”, where her name is first from their lips as an example of how to properly build rapport with a dog. Diane has probably forgotten more about the technical aspects of competitive Obedience and the dog sport of Agility dog training than pros will ever know. And I know this because I was the second trainer mentioned in the list–but believe me it would have to be a pretty distant 2nd. How did I get on that list anyway? LOL
First, let me reiterate that I am NOT a Dog Show/Obedience Trial kind of guy. I love dog shows, but I am not the type that would chauffeur mine across the country to win trophy s and titles. While my training is focused on having the dog fit into my life and activities by being able to take him anywhere under complete control (Leash optional), I fully recognize Competition Obedience training is where some of the best training methodology are created and refined, I streamline the approach so that it works in a session or two and you get 80-90% of the results that are instantly applicable to the real world you live in, instead of months of sessions that NO ONE but a career professional dog trainer has the desire or motivation (Winning titles) to do. That is why average pet owners fail at dog training. They don’t have time or energy for another career path, they want a dog that Comes when called, Stays where he is put until we release him, and walks attentively beside us anywhere we take him.
Diane Goes Positive-only on me
I asked her if she ever used “Positive Only” training and she surprised me by saying “Oh yes, its all I do now.” I couldn’t believe my ears…until after an awkward pause she continued: “My dog is Positive that when I give a command, that he is going to do it.”
She also told me that in the world of top flight obedience, that the winners are still the dogs trained with a more balanced approach and are in no danger of being displaced on the winners stand by “treat only” training. “Actually, I am happy when someone wants to try to follow the positive-only methodology–I know that I will be able to beat them in competition.” She Said.
The Blind Leading the Blind
We talked about a few of the Guide Dog Schools that jumped on the clicker based positive only training, and gave me the names of several well known Guide Dog Schools that tried to implement clicker trained guide dogs and are moving Away from Positive Only and are now in the process of changing back to a more balanced program.
“The Pendulum is Swinging back the other way again now –to a more rational and balanced approach.”
“Positive-only “sells a lot of clickers and cocktail weenies, but where is the other half of the methodology that allows it to work outside the living room? Where is the balance? The Guide Dog schools have been another valuable testing ground for the benefits and the limitations.
“David, What you created with the Command Performance Dog Training System was the way to get a trained dog without taking years to build the skill sets of being a skilled dog trainer–and for the first time there was a system novices could use and get fast results that are 85-90% of what competitive dogs and trainers work for years to develop–it gets results right out of the box.”
When I told her about the all the work I was doing planning the updated new system, she joked that maybe I ought to “just leave it alone and wait- in another year it will be Cutting Edge again.”