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A Positive Conclusion (An overview of why positive only training does not wash with our dog trainers in basingstoke)



The canine world, very much like our very own has turned into a circus, where we parade the ideology of fluffy Unicorns and Rainbows, holding the conception that we must start evaluating our dogs feelings and emotions before making a logical decision in their training.


Well I'm sorry if this offends a large proportion of readers here, but to be frank if this offends you, you are probably already in the wrong place, the exit button is at the top right of the screen. For the rest of you looking for a reputable, outspoken dog trainer in Basingstoke, continue reading.


Now lets get down to facts.


The canine world is not one of optimism, positivity and deluded ideas from glorified dog walkers. No quite the opposite, dogs communicate via four main channels.

  1. Smell Smell can be communicated with pheromones and adrenaline, yes a dog can tell sex, maturity and when another dog is a threat! This will trigger the flight or fight response.

  2. Sight This is communicated via physical ques to one another, these include posture, eye contact, tail and ear position.

  3. Sound Obviously a dog can communicate with sound, whines, growls, barks

  4. Physical A dog from a very young age will quickly learn communication via negative reinforcement and punishment from its mother, think about a puppy being scruffed and pulled back to its den by mum every time it crawls away, or snapped at when mum has given too much milk

So if these are the four main learning channels for dogs, why do we use positive reinforcement? Well very simply, positively reinforcing a desirable behaviour is how we alter and hone a desired response from a dog.


However! This is where the solely positive brigade get it so wrong. What do we do when a dog demonstrates an undesirable behaviour? Do we simply continue rewarding the desired behaviour, ignoring the undesirable behaviour, in an attempt to hopefully overpower the dogs will to not show that response in future? NO! is the correct answer.


Continuing to positively reward desired behaviour and simply ignoring the undesirable behaviour or distracting away from bad behaviour, quite often ends up in the reinforcement of the undesirable behaviour by association.


For example

A dog shows excessive aggression when on lead to another dog, we distract the dog by dropping treats at their feet or on their head as a distraction, said dog is now distracted by this action and desists their aggressive behaviour momentarily, following on to consume the treats. Congratulations you have now positively reinforced this action, in the future your dog will now understand a linked connection between showing aggression and gaining food.


Alternatively

A dog shows excessive aggression when on lead to another dog, we administer a well timed check on the lead, breaking the dogs focus and saying in a firm tone NO! every time they demonstrate this behaviour. Congratulations you have now punished and negatively reinforced this behavioural trait, meaning their is no positive influence gained from you, when demonstrating this behaviour.


Now this is where it gets really interesting...


A dog shows excessive aggression when on lead to another dog, we administer a well timed check on the lead, breaking the dogs focus and saying in a firm tone NO! every time they demonstrate this behaviour. Congratulations you have now punished and negatively reinforced this behavioural trait, meaning their is no positive influence gained from you, when demonstrating this behaviour. This dog then proceeds to stop showing aggression as a preferred behavioural trait as to avoid the negative consequences now associated with it, so we reward the dog with a low value treat. We then proceed to ask the dog for eye contact, upon completing this command, they receive a high value reward. The dog now understands that by giving you attention during these scenarios, leads to reward.


Now the above example I like to refer to as the head and tail, every coin has two sides and unless you flip it over to see both, how would you know the difference.


Now there are some amazing positive based trainers out their in the competition world, who do some amazing work with their dogs, achieving what most will never in a lifetime! However, these trainers are not working with your everyday dogs, they are specifically selecting the right dog for this purpose, dogs with high compliance and a strong food or ball drive. They do not use the dogs that 99.9% of you own! If they did, you wouldn't be on this page.


Now the one thing that really boils my blood, is the amount of people I see on a weekly basis at our dog training field in Basingstoke, who say 'We have had 3, 4, 5 other dog trainers but we didn't get anywhere' WHY?! The answer is false promise and bullshit! Preying on the vulnerable to cash in and promise them results with their beloved pet.




I actually spoke to a lovely lady this week that had attended a total of 104, 1 hour sessions with her GSD, within the last 12 months, with a local reputable force free, positive only dog trainer in Basingstoke, to address a simple issue of 'dog aggression', created by over socialisation and frustration. 104 sessions!! and the trainer had the audacity when challenged as to say, results are to be expected within a 3 year time frame! Now at £60 an hour, this poor woman was already in £6,000, by the time their training had reached commencement, either the dog would have died from old age or the poor lady would have been homeless after remortgaging her house.


Now this statement will upset some of you reading this, and if it does, GOOD! You are the problem, I'm not hear to make friends and influence people, I'm here to train dogs. Dogs you have failed! I hold absolutely no respect for trainers who claim that they can train any dog, specifically reactive and aggressive dogs, solely using their all-positive methods, without ever needing to correct the dog and act like some demigod preaching about the negative effects of balanced training. Such individuals are engaging in deceptive practices and are best suited to running pyramid schemes than training academies. They should be held accountable for fraud!



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