USING POSITIVE-ONLY METHODS
TO HELP YOUR PET DOG(S)
Dog Training, Behavior Modification and Treatment
For All Of North Florida
By Jon Wedemeyer
April 21, 2023
Today's Dogs... They Are Not Your Grandfathers Dogs
As recently as a few generations ago, most people viewed their dogs primarily as working animals and not very often as companion animals. Most were kept near the home, and used mainly for hunting, herding, etc., or alerting and guarding purposes. They were not actually seen as thinking, feeling, emotional creatures, each with its own distinct personality and capable of forming strong emotional bonds. Most dogs were relegated to a pen or doghouse outside the home and not often integrated inside the home or family. How many old TV shows have you seen or old pictures with the doghouse outside in the back yard, and who can forget fearless Snoopy on his mighty doghouse!
Today, we make our canine companions members of our family (sometimes to a fault, more about that in a minute) and we develop deep, loving bonds with them. We share all that we have and everything we do with our beloved canine companions. They are now a part of the family. Now, we even have canine TickTok and YouTube stars that steal the show every time they are on (guilty). Our understanding and our love affair with our pet dogs has come a long way very, very quickly. More importantly, our understanding of our dogs intellect, and how they think, feel and integrate within the human dynamic has totally changed.
Most of this change has been in the past thirty years or so, as the science, philosophy and methodology of canine behavior and training has undergone transformative changes, which are now being put into practice by more and more modern dog trainers. From a behavioral standpoint, gone are the days when there was actual serious debate on whether or not dogs had real emotions or really felt things on an emotional level (they do).
When I was in my early twenties, I remember reading a very sober, seriously written article, discussing the question of whether or not dogs had feelings and emotions that "might" be similar to humans. I literally laughed out-loud while I read it, thinking to myself how obvious it was and wondering how and why the author didn't get it, why they couldn't see it?. But that is simply where we were at back then, and that's not that long ago. Fast-forward to 2020 and I took a course at Duke University on "Canine Emotion and Cognition" - it totally blew me away at how highly evolved and highly intelligent we now realize our canine companions really are. We've come a long way.
Modern Methods Of Training and Behavior Modification
From a training standpoint, gone are the days of using archaic, outdated often cruel, painful, aversive methods, or using painful devices such as choke, prong and shock collars to train dogs. Would you seriously, actually allow someone to use any of these to train your dog? Now, we use Positive Reinforcement, Force-Free and Reward-Based training methods and science-based behavior modification techniques to help our canine friends. By helping you understand how intelligent your dog really is, I can then show you how to re-shape, re-direct or modify it's behavior, train it to do certain things (or not do certain things!) and become the best dog it can be.
The irony of all this is that back in the day, on the one level we treated our dogs like just animals, but on that level, we actually understood them and how they would behave better. As just one example, are you old enough to remember your mother telling you "Don't bother the dog while it's eating! You're gonna get bit!" It was understood back then, that the family dog was still an animal that needed to be respected, and could react a certain way to certain things. Today, we have humanized dogs to the point where I get calls to come help because the dog is growling when it is bothered around its food. No, this can not be allowed and needs to be addressed, but we have to remember - IT'S STILL A DOG! Also, no matter what the issue(s) you are having with your dog(s), they love you very much and will learn to behave properly in order to please you, I can promise you that.
Using Positive-Only Methods To Help Your Dog
I have been trained in, and practice only Positive Reinforcement (R+) and Force-Free (FF) methods in working with all my dogs. There is never any need to yell, scold, intimidate or otherwise destroy the human-canine bond between you and your pet! Leadership yes, dominance or intimidation, no. Anyone who yells, screams or hits a dog, uses aversive methods such as shock-collars, prong collars, choke collars, or advocates using these methods of communicating with a dog, really knows nothing about communicating or talking to dogs. In my opinion, these trainers really should be avoided at all costs, for the sake of your dog.
Using Positive-Only methods results in building a lasting, lifetime relationship of trust between the human and dog. It means making it fun for the dog to learn and do what it is asked to do. This is accomplished by teaching the dog to 'WORK" for a reward, which is either a treat, a favorite toy, or simply playing with you! Dogs see any type of attention, affection, activity or treat as a reward for a "JOB" done. It is much easier and repeatable to train a dog using positive-only methods than by the old methods, because the dogs enjoy doing the task and will respond willingly and much more reliably to their training.
Humanizing our Dogs Too Much
In closing, and this is hard for a lot of people to hear, but almost everyone does get this after they think about it.
A majority of the issues I deal with every day come from "humanizing" our dogs too much. We can love our dogs too much, we can treat them too much like humans. We have gone from seeing our dogs as a pet and a guardian animal, to seeing them almost as human family members. Now, to be totally clear, I am not saying this a bad thing or wrong, it's who we are and what we do, this is not a judgement, it is however fact. We can love our dogs with all our hearts, but we should not turn them into people. The relationship has to be kept within a certain perspective, or that's when behavioral problems can develop.
We can't love our dogs to the point where they loose their dog identity, dog sense, their "dogness" and turn into mini-humans. Your pup can very easily get too attached and form too much of a bond with you if you let that happen. This can lead to all sorts of problems like taking over the house and becoming the leader, being large and in-charge, aggressiveness on walks, having meltdowns when left alone, or even developing separation anxiety. A lot of what I do is helping my clients RE-SET the relationship they have with there doggo(s) and establish a calm, leadership role in the relationship.
I would love to talk to you about your pets particular issues and how Positive-Only methods of behavior management may help your dog. Please feel free to call, email or fill out the contact form here: http://www.dogtrainergainesville.com/contact-me/
CALL OR EMAIL TODAY IF YOU NEED HELP WITH YOUR PET!