Recently I’ve seen and heard about a post going around social media regarding the way an owner train her dog to obey her command. Most of you would have seen it. However, I will not go into details on it.
My observations and thoughts on the method used to correct the dog was totally an abuse. If an owner punishes a dog using an intensity greater than needed, it’s pure abuse. Or if a dog is fixated or obsess with a bad behaviour which requires a very hard physical correction, that’s pure abuse! What then, many will ask… is the best way? Well, as Ian Dunbar always say; there are many things that motivates a dog. It can be food, toy, swim, etc… Use these things to lure and reward them, rather then physical punishment. That being said. It can be difficult to understand how to use such reward at the right time. Of course, it’s safer to approach a professional. But it’s important to understand the methods different behaviourist or trainer is using and adopt.
Having been to many homes, I’ve noticed that most people make the same mistake. They reprimand, or spank their dog on the butt. Both methods are as good as useless. The dog is always losing, never winning and never able to understand what he/she did wrong, and nothing is rewarded for the right behaviour at the right time. Human hands are one of the most untrustworthy parts when it comes to correcting a dog’s behaviour. When a human reaches frustration, it doesn’t matter if you are using a gentle leader, chest harness or even the usual harness. A human’s hand can turn into an abuse, tugging on the leash so hard that the dog flies, using the leash as a punishment tool, etc… This are the actions I’ve seen while observing dog owners walking their dogs on any normal day.
Question: Is it necessary to use brute force to punish a dog for not obeying your commands? Does using brute force makes you more frustrated? Does shocking your dog makes you more sadistic?
There are many gentle and respectful ways to manage behaviours and/or cases where your dog disobey your command, or not acting on your command on time. It’s all about respect that we humans have to learn to give before receiving. Every behaviourist and trainer knows that dogs do not have deductive reasoning. So the best way is to use rewards to lock-in a desired behaviour. Yes, sometimes dogs need to be discipline. But discipline or punishment can be as gentle as holding back food, treating the dog later, ignoring the dog until the desired behaviour, etc… the list goes on… There are so many gentle methods of disciplining a dog by not even touching the dog and hurting the dog. These are ways of communicating with your dog whats desired and whats not. It’s much calmer, and more fun.
Therefore, my conclusion to such training from the video that has been circulating around is pure abuse! It’s not sportsmanship in anyway and it’s 100% disrespectful to God’s creation and gift to us humans. The dog is doing out of fear rather then respect. And here at The Dog Behaviourist, and I believe many of my other trainer friends agree as well, we as humans must respect dog’s natural needs and instincts before receiving the respect back from them. We must stop being egoistic when it comes to dog training.
Note: Someone has to speak out about such form of training. Even if it causes unhappiness, I stand for what is right and what our wide range of sources can provide in terms of dog behaviour and training. If the world class behaviourist and trainers do not need to use such abusive methods, then no one needs!!
By Ezra Koh