Training and behaviorism used to be separate ideologies, but now, training has become behaviorism. This idea that everything can and has to be trained is absurd. “Hire a trainer” for everything, but yet, so many people are spending months and sometimes years – and thousands of dollars – and never really achieving success because they should be working on understanding why a dog is performing certain behaviors.
Working with a behaviorist doesn’t have to be expensive, sometimes it’s a matter of hours to help the owners understand their dogs issues, and overcome.
Trainers teach. They can teach obedience, agility, service jobs, sniffing jobs etc – something that is outside the default of the dogs world. When trainers focus on behaviors, they tend to try to teach the dog to behave or simply try to shut down a behavior using obedience. There always seem to be tools involved – clickers and treats, or prong collar or e-collar etc. Trainers tend to follow the ideal that dogs need “something to learn”.
One should understand the use of clickers and treats, but I never see it explained by trainers. Owners are simply taught how to use them. The clicker is basically a reinforcer that a “reward” is coming – and the treat being a reward. You are simply turn behaviors – good and bad – into tricks, everything becomes a trick. This is why the process is called “shaping” – you’re shaping behaviors and turning them into tricks. Yes, in the short term it can work quickly, but long term…
The behaviorist understands the underlying causes of your dogs behaviors – why your dog is showing aggression, why your dog is reactive. We focus on the relationship between the dog and owner and work with the owner to understand and overcome problems. This is why changes happen much more quickly.
Obedience doesn’t equate to behaved. Behaved doesn’t equate to obedience. Which would you prefer? A dog you can take anywhere that will be relaxed? Or a dog that place from 50 feet away?
Diagnosis is one of the serious issues in the dog world today. Trainers are diagnosing dogs as “aggressive” but aggression isn’t a diagnostic, and the word only serves to scare the owner into management. That is not fair to the dog or the owner.
Aggression is a symptom, the outcome of a problem. The behaviorist will find out what is causing the aggression and work on that. Most dogs that I work with are insecure, lacking confidence. A secure dog will never need to show aggression or be reactive.
Think different, and feel free to call me.
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