After a hectic weekend of surprise sunshine, broken washing machines & the ensuing panic this week’s (fortnight’s?) blog post is a little late. It’s either proof I shouldn’t work to a schedule, or proof I need to be more organised!
“Instead of measuring a relationship with an animal by it’s “cheapness”, it should be measured instead by the amount of trust the animal holds”
People often say that training a dog using food and/or toys as reinforcers can and does “cheapen” the bond of a human-animal team. What these people don’t realise is that there isn’t a team without some form of reinforcement for each potential member of that team.
Perhaps this makes more sense to me because I have ‘special’ dogs, who need someone in their life they can trust after a hard start; perhaps it makes sense to me because I’m interested in training my dogs in the quickest, most efficient, and least stressful way; or perhaps most people don’t really stop to think about this sort of thing (if that’s you, I think you should!).
I think the thing many people fail to realise is that dogs don’t actually come with a built-in desire to please humans – and let’s face it, not many humans do either! Dogs are only “in it” for themselves, so if you can’t make it worth their while to do what you want, they’ll happily find something better to do.
Of course, there are a few options to choose from, but it boils down to two points: you can force your dog in to complying with your request; or you can show your dog that it’s worth his while to listen to you and do as you ask.
Yes, we know that whichever way you choose, your dog will be more likely to do as you ask but why use methods which intimidate, oppress, and diminish both the spirit of one half of your team, and the bond which holds your team together?
Why not use methods to build up your canine teammate, and strengthen your bond with each other, turning “working” with you, into “playing” with you?
After all, the only one who can show you the value of your “work” is your dog – so why not help him to see that value…?