By Gaby Dufresne-Cyr, CBT
This week I want to talk about a subject really close to home, dog training methodologies. You would think dog training evolved since my childhood days, but it seems, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
When I was a kid, we trained dogs in a military fashion. After all, my father was a military man so what else were we suppose to do?! Punishment was in and tools like choke and prong collars were fashionable. If you didn't train your dog with these tools, you weren't training at all.
Today we know better. A decade ago or so, scientists decided to study dogs; as a result, labs were inaugurated and people started to research various aspects of our canine companions. Discoveries are still being made, and new findings reveal information we can incorporate into our training programs. We now know tools of the past are no longer necessary.
Three years ago, one man decided to create an initiative that is changing dog training once more. Every June, SPARCS presents a weekend conference on canine cognition discoveries. The event is presented free online via live streamed. The science based discussion allows information to be shared with the world; consequently, dog training and behaviour modification are now on an upsurge.
In 2015, there's no valid reason to use punishment or choke, prong, electric, citronella, or other coercive tools. But, I do understand how people believe punishment is the way. Our entire society is based on punishment. Schools punish, jobs punish, the market punishes, and parents punish; as such, dogs should also be punished.
It'll take time before the inner child of punishment based trainers can shine through and change their minds. Till then, our job is to teach old school trainers that there's a better way, but ultimately, they themselves need to experience the laws of reinforcement.