Here’s my shortest explanations of why “jerks” in dog training are wrong, and “kindness” is more effective .
- Someone told you to knee the dog in the chest? Dogs do this as play. The more you land a knee to their chest, the more aggressively physical the dogs think you play! If you’re thinking, in that case, knee REALLY HARD in the chest? Unfriending a dog with violence never makes teaching a dog easier.
- Someone told you to jerk on a dog’s neck? Don’t do it. Also, don’t let a dog drag you down the street. If you constantly are keeping the leash tight (getting dragged) while walking, or while “correcting” or just while oblivious, your dog will just figure that’s the way leash walking goes. Dogs develop a “tough” insensitive neck, where they’ve accepted the status quo, and can’t discriminate softer other leash guidance , much like horses with tough mouths can’t feel the rein .
- Tempted to yell at your dog? Then how will your dog know if it’s a REAL emergency? Save it.
- And I don’t shock, prong, choke because it damages dogs, just like it would damage you if you were taught that way. Aversive related anxiety may show up where you don’t expect it, in reactive barking, aggression, destructive behaviors, or in dogs who shut down. Aversives cause anxiety, and anxiety gets in the way of thinking.
- So, don’t hurt your dog, and don’t hurt yourself. Training mistakes are opportunities to grow. The best thing you can do is record your training, you learn so much. Below is Tiger when she was about 4 years old. She is 15 years now, and I look back on things I tried with her, how I pushed her, and I think, what was I thinking?! I’ve grown as a trainer. Give yourself room to grow. There’s no shame in making mistakes, the shame is in making the same mistake over and over and over! Everyday, make a new entry in your training journal. If you make small goals, and achieve them with kindness, you can’t go wrong. Kindness to your dog and also, kindness to yourself.