Old School Vs. New School Dog Training
Welcome to our inaugural dog training podcast called Common Sense Dog Training. Want to learn the difference between old school dog training and new school dog training? Ever wonder why kids get trophies even when they are on losing teams and why dogs are given treats for every good (and bad behavior) they do? Guess what, those things are related. Listen below.
Hello! This is Ty Brown of dogbehavioronline.com and welcome to our inaugural episode of Common Sense Dog Training. Now this is the show where we return common sense to dog training. Now, why does it have to be returned you might ask? Simply because the politically correct elite of the dog training world has tried to convince us to think things about man’s best friend that are simply crazy, defy common sense, and defy all reason. And so, in this inaugural episode, I want to delve a little bit into my personal philosophy on dog training and what it means for you the dog owner and what you can do to battle these politically correct elite people who are trying to convince you that the dog is this crazy mystical creature that can’t be understood unless you have a bag of treats hanging on your hip.
So, let me first start off by giving you a brief history of dog training. Now, this is not by any way, by any means some sort of a concise history where I am going to tell you in 1932 this gentleman did this and this dog did that. But let me give you just a brief overview of what’s happened in the dog training climate over the last while; let’s say a hundred years or so. Back a hundred years ago, I don’t think there were too many professional dog trainers. Maybe there was a couple here and there, because dog training was typically done by the farmer, the sheep herder, the guy that was using the dog, the hobbyist, that type of thing, the hunter. And for the most part, it was pretty harsh and heavy handed. When you look back and you see some of the dog training books from the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s – I own some of these books – you will see that they talk about some pretty harsh things about smacking the dog, yelling at the dog, screaming at the dog, shoving the dog, pushing the dog down, doing all sorts of things that are harsh and heavy handed. And to be honest, did they get results? Yeah, they want you to notice, but yeah, they got results. Were they the results that most people are happy with or I’d be happy with? No, they are not great results, but nowadays you can find people that say that doesn’t work. Well it does work. If the dog start to jump on you and you smack him in the face, he probably isn’t going to jump on you very often. So, does it work to smack him in the face? Yes. Is it a good idea? No. Simply because of the side effects. In dog training I talk a lot about the side effects. We want to have positive side effects not negative side effects. In the case you smack your dog in the face when he jumps on you, that’s a negative side effect. He becomes shy hand shy, he becomes fearful, lots of things like that. So, any case, does the old school style work? Yes, it can work, but typically the side effects make it not a very fun way to train your dog. Now, what has happened here is in the last decade or two, maybe even a little bit longer than that, we’ve seen a complete shift away from that. Not to any sort of sanity, but into the complete pole opposite of insanity. Before it was insane how people just were beating up their dogs to get them to be obedient. Now, they’re doing the complete opposite. Now we’ve got this new school style – and to be honest, I have no idea what to call it because I call it treat trainers and I was on message board the other day and I had mentioned something about treat trainers and they all got very upset. And so I mentioned something else about positive only trainers or something like that. And they said that’s not accurate either. And so I asked, “What should I be calling you guys?” And nobody answered. And so I have no idea what to call this type of training. Let’s call it treat training, soft training, whatever you want to call it. The idea behind it is – let me give you a broad brush stroke here. I am not going to give you plenty of variations here, but the idea behind it is treat to the foundation, rewarding positive behavior and either simply flat out ignoring negative behavior, or just simply trying to redirect it with some sort of obedience, a toy, a treat or something like that. And so, like I said, old school versus new school. They’re complete polar opposite and they’re both just as damaging to the dog training community. I mean they’re both really bad for dogs, they’re really bad for owners. Now, I’ve noticed that the same thing has happened with our children. It’s almost like the two are parallel of each other. I don’t know who is first. Did it switch with dogs first, or did it switch with kids first? My guess is it switched with kids first. But, what was it, a hundred years ago, children were to be seen but not heard, right? And it was completely cool to whip out a belt or go cut a switch, or whatever, and get that kid to be obedient no matter what. Nowadays, you go cut a switch and you’re going to be heading out to the local precinct here. It’s completely gone the polar opposite. Everything that kids say is validated. We can’t offend kids by telling them no; we can’t offend kids by telling them they’re doing something wrong. In fact, we have to go so far as to give them a trophy even when they’re losers, even when they lose their games, even when they’re 0 in 10 in their little league baseball team, we have to give them a trophy because we can’t offend them.
And those today that are looking through the lenses of common sense look at both these scenarios and say, “This is idiotic. Here, we’ve got this dog jumping up on me and I’m not going to correct that? Here, we’ve got this kid on a baseball team going 0 in 45 and we’re to give them a trophy and pizza party? What happened?” People with common sense there are just looking at this scene and saying, “Have we just lost it as a society?” And to a degree the answer is, “Yes we have lost it because these things (…)” I’m not going to get into too much in here on raising kids because I’ve got three kids of my own and one on the way and by means am I an expert at all. In fact, I always joked that I’m so glad to have dog training because dogs are easy and the kids are hard. But, I’m not going to pretend to be some sort of master when it comes to helping kids be better. In fact, I have different philosophies with my kids. With my dogs I use correction, physical correction, a leash thug, e-collar or things like that. With my kids, I’ve actually never spank them. And so, because I believe that kids can learn in different ways than dogs can. But in any case, the parallels are still there. The parallels are there to a society that used to be pretty harsh on its kids and its dogs, and now has completely turned 180 degrees and now is completely allowing of all bad behavior, and finding ways to justify it, and even so far as down to like medications. With kids getting out of form, let’s give him some drugs. Same thing with dogs. I can’t tell you how many dogs that I have rescued from drugs because the owner was trying to put their dog on drugs by their vet. The dog’s chewing, drugs, or the dogs got a sniff, drugs, the dog pees when he goes, drugs; or the dog pees when you’re not home, drugs; or the dog pees when you’re home, drugs. So, while looking for that magic little pill that’s going to solve the problem and it just doesn’t exist. And the same with our kids. Your kid’s bad, drugs; your kid’s hyper, drugs; your kid’s not getting his grades, drugs. And so, are there dogs that need medication? Yes. Are there kids that need medication, yes. I’m not going to dispute that. But I don’t think I’m going out on a limp by saying there are much less dogs and much less kids that need medication that are actually on medication. And so, we live in a society here where everything is validated. We can’t tell a dog or a kid no. We can’t tell a dog or a little kid because that’s going to hurt their little feelings and that would be horrible.
What’s the solution here folks? To be honest, I don’t know what the solution is. But I’ve got to tell you just how frustrated I am because I get on these message boards, in fact I am a member of a number of groups on LinkedIn – I don’t know if you guys know LinkedIn. You probably do. You guys are probably more internet savvy than myself. But LinkedIn is a social networking tool and I am in a number of groups for Pet Professionals, Dog Trainers, Dog Behaviors, that type of thing. And I am the pariah of those groups, pretty much, simply because of my views. No one has an open mind any more. Even though I go in and I just share my experience and what I believe and don’t attack anyone, immediately any time I share anything I am attacked. Let me give you some examples here, because they crack me up and to be honest I hope some people that are in these conversations on LinkedIn listen to this and they can realize how ridiculous they are. Again, this is not a politically correct show. I’m trying to help you understand how to view your dog in the correct light, not the light that Professor Watson told you to view your dog, or that this famous dog trainer did. And so, in any case, recently I was in this conversation – I’m chuckling to begin with because it is so ridiculous. But someone had mentioned, “We’ve got this dog. The dog is on the counter constantly. We can’t keep the dog off the counter. We don’t know what to do. We’ve tried this, this, and this.” And someone said, “Put some sticky side of tape on the counter so when the dog jumps up their paws get caught on the tape.” So, I said, it’s a pretty nice idea. I said, “Thanks for that idea. It’s a good idea, I’ve never tried that.” And then I said, “One thing I’ve tried in the past, which is pretty cool, is you take a laptop, you take a smart phone, you take a tablet or something that is enabled with Skype, that’s enabled with Facetime, that’s enabled with some sort of video chat. And you point that at the counter. Then you go outside so the dog thinks you’re gone but you’re watching through your iPhone or through your whatever. You’re watching what the dog is doing. And then as the dog jumps on the counter – and in the meantime, of course, you bait the counter; you put some nice hot dogs up there so the dogs wants to get up there. And what you do is, you go out and the dog jumps on the counter. You give the dog a correction with an e-collar, electric training collar. Now, just for the records here, the way that I use the e-collar, I use it on low levels. It’s slightly more than a tickly, it’s incredibly humane. And yet, even though I put that on there, immediately people are jumping down my throat. “How dare you suggest this. This is such a horrible idea. You’re brutal, you’re inhumane. All sorts of crazy stuff. And I just couldn’t help but sit back and chuckle because the reality is the way that the e-collar is used, when the e-collar is used properly, it’s actually less invasive than tape on the counter. No one is sitting there howling at the people with tape on the counter. But they kind of virtually screamed at me. And I’m fine with it. I actually got a little bit of a kick out of it. And so, they’re saying it’s horrible. Here’s what we do, so someone put his video up bragged. I laughed about a good ten minutes after I watched this video. In essence, what the video was, they have a dog in a leash. They put some food on the table – a coffee table or a counter. And as the dog is interested, they just kind of guide the dog over to them and they got a treat. They give the dog click and a treat. And then they let the dog interested in the counter again, but they’ve got the dog to themselves. Essentially what they are doing is they’re redirecting the dog’s attention. The dog’s focused on something on the counter that they want to eat and they refocus that attention to the person, and the person gives them a treat. Now, this is fatally flawed for a number of different reasons. Number one, what happens when the person is not there? What happens when the dog realizes that the person is not there but there is a nice little piece of ham? I think I’m going to get the piece of ham because there’s nobody here. Nobody here providing me a better alternative than this piece of ham on the table. So, number one, it is fatally flawed for that reason. But number two, guess what, folks, no one ever taught the dog that it was wrong to get something off the table. They just simply tried to communicate to the dog, whether successfully or unsuccessfully I will ever know, but they tried to communicate to the dog, “Hey, you have this something that is really cool on the table but5 there’s something cooler over here.” Think about that in the equivalent of human terms. We’re going to tell the kids, “Hey, I know you want to steal that, but come over here, and I’m going to give you some money instead.” And can you imagine being a parent of a teenager and you can tell the teenager, because you’re looking at him, he’s going to steal that video game. And you are like, “Hey, instead of stealing, I’ve got twenty bucks. How ridiculous of an idea is that? And yet this is what has been force fed to us by the majority of dog trainers today that have completely abandoned common sense. And so, like I said, the dog would never realize that getting on the counter is wrong. Now, I have no problem redirecting the dog and showing the dog, “Hey, I’ve got something that’s valuable and I’m going to praise if you do something right and you don’t do something wrong. But, you better damn well believe that first I’m going to correct the dog for even thinking about getting on the counter. Why wouldn’t I? Why would I say to my kid, “I think if you didn’t steal today then I’ll give you that twenty bucks. What’s that kid going to realize? “Well, next time I’m going to try forty out of this guy. This guy is a sucker.” But, again that’s the stuff that we’re spoon-fed and led to believe that if you do this long enough, it’s going to work. And that was actually my criticism in this LinkedIn forum, and I said, even if this does work, it’s going to take forever, and ever and ever. And the response back was, “Well, my clients don’t mind doing extra work.” And, I was like, “BS!” Every client minds doing more work than they don’t have to do. Every client minds when their intelligence is insulted and they’re told, “You can’t correct the dog. You’ve got to just bribe the dog away from the table so he doesn’t jump on the table.” And so, like I said, the entire premise was ridiculous, the entire premise was just plain silly. And so, on the same forum but on another topic, we were talking about something similar and someone was saying, “If you use correction, it hurts the relationship you have with your dog. And now you’re building fear.” And again, that is such a fatally flawed concept from the get go. Since when does a correction hurt the relationship? And again, I told you, I’m not some sort of parenting expert and I’m not going to pretend to be. But because there are so many parallels between dogs and kids, I want to draw some of these parallels, because when you see it in terms of kids, sometimes it kind of jogs something in your mind, and you’re like, “Okay, that finally makes sense.” Whereas when sometimes, I have to admit, when I listen to some of these “Dog training experts” who are telling me that I can accomplish whatever I want with the treat, sometimes it easily makes sense, until you actually start delving into what they’re saying and realizing, “Oh, you’re completely wrong and this doesn’t make sense in theory, let alone in application.” But, like I said, nowadays, there’s like a stereotyped clichéd rich kid. Now, I have no problems with rich kids. I wish I was one. I hope my kids will be one. I hope I can give them everything they need. But, there is the stereotyped rich kid. And who is he? He’s a kid that’s never been told that things are bad, that what he’s doing is wrong, he’s been allowed to do whatever he wants. His bad behaviors are reinforced by his parents. And so, the stereotyped rich kid is in the Law & Order episodes, he’s in the Teen movies, he’s in the Teen books, etc. Like I said, nowadays it’s a cliché. But does it exist? Yeah. It exists. And why does this stereotyped rich kid exist? Simply because he’s got parents who won’t correct him. And what’s the stereotyped result? Does he end up loving mommy and daddy because they won’t correct him and because they give him everything he wants? No. This is the kid that’s self-loving, resentful, hates his parents, gets stuck on drugs, resorting to crimes – and again, I’m talking clichés; it’s stereotypes of course – but again, this obviously everyone knows some kid that has been down this path. Maybe it wasn’t a rich kid. Maybe it was a middle class kid that was never corrected. And so why I say these “Experts” will tell you today, “If you correct your dog with a collar or a spray bottle, some sort of correction; if you correct your dog, you’re going to hurt the relationship you have with your dog. You’re going to build fear, you’re going to do that. But I would assert the opposite is true. When you don’t correct your dog, it sets you up for a relationship of failure. It puts you in a position where the dog doesn’t respect you at all. And there is a huge difference in respect and fear. We absolutely don’t want to cause fear. And that’s what inappropriate corrections will do. But appropriate corrections do not cause fear. For example, I mentioned earlier, I don’t spank my kids. And for those that do spank their kids, I actually don’t care. It’s really up to you, it’s your decision what you want to do. But we decided, as a husband and wife, that we’ve got a different way of correcting our kids. We’re going to take away their doll – they’re young, 6, 4, and 1. We’re going to take away their doll if they’re naughty – in fact, I did that last night because they wouldn’t go to bed – that we’re going to send them to their room, that we’re going to take away their privilege, that they can’t have a friend come over or something like that. Because that’s something that they can understand, it’s something that makes sense and it’s actual correction to them. Now, if we didn’t do that, now we’ve got good kids, but sometimes of course, like any parents, we would just sit there and we’re like, “What did we do, these kids are driving us knots.” But we actually have wonderful kids who are good kids, are growing up well, who for the most part respect each other and respect us. And why is that? Is that because we never corrected them and only gave them treats when they did something right and only tried to distract them when they were doing something wrong? No. It’s because we set a standard. We said, “This is what we expect and if you don’t do that, here’s the correction.” I’m not mad at you, I’m not correcting you because I’m mad at you. I’m simply correcting you because that’s the system that we live with here. And it’s the same with the dog. When corrections are done out of anger, emotion, absolutely those can build fear. The corrections that are very non-emotional don’t build fear. I always tell my clients, when working with big dogs, corrections that they give need to be firm but fair. Firm because you don’t want to be nagging the dog, but fair at the same time. Too many people are way too firm and not fair. We need to be finding ways to corrections that are firm and fair. And so, like I said, this entire premise that we can’t correct, we just need to redirect the dog, that if we do correct we’re going to hurt poor little dog’s feelings. Like I said, it’s parallel to child raising society that we have and as a result, what are seeing in this new generation? I shouldn’t even say this new generation, because I’m probably part of this new generation. I’m not that old. But what are we seeing? We’re seeing crime statistics go up, we see things get worse, and worse, and worse as a society simply because no one wants to correct their kids anymore.
And so, what’s the solution here, folks? Very simply, I call it stabilized training. And when I say stabilized training, what I’m referring to is the approach of borrowing from both the old school and the new school. And so, what I’ve said in the last twenty minutes has lambasted both the old school and the new school. I do believe that they both have something right. They both happen to be about half right and they both happen to be about half wrong. And so, using some sort of mathematical formula, I’m sure that will tell us, let’s find somewhere in the middle. And so, that’s my style, and that’s what I call a stabilized approach. And what a stabilized approach is, let’s use corrections, like I mentioned a couple of times earlier, let’s use corrections. That might be a tug on a leash; that might be a spray with a spray bottle; it might be a low level correction with an e-collar. It could be a number of things. Let’s just make sure they’re fair and humane. Let’s make sure they’re not based on emotions they’re not built for bringing fear into the equation. On the same hand, let’s also use motivation. Let’s use a lot of praise. Let’s just not use so many treats. I am a hundred percent opposed to treats. Some trainers are like, “You use treats, you’re a bad person.” I’m not a hundred percent opposed to treats. There are places where I use treats. Where I am opposed though is where an integral foundational piece of your training such a ridiculous concept to make a treat the foundational piece of your training. Do you want your dog to respect you or do you want your dog to respect the treats? That’s what it really boils down to. And if you want your dog to respect the treat, absolutely, go ahead and use your treat. If you want your dog to respect you, you better use those treats in moderation, only for certain things, and only in the beginning and very quickly wean the dog off of them. And so, like I said, I want my dog working for me and that’s why praise comes from me. It’s a pat on the head, it’s a pat on the body, it’s good boy, it’s a snuggle, it’s a play session. I want my dog to realize that I love his good behavior. And so, what we end up with, with a stabilized approach is we end up with a dog that realizes that obedience is the rule. I got news for you folks. I’ve put this in parenthesis here (treat training never gets good obedience, ever). Simply because the dog realizes there are things that are more interesting than treats. So, you never receive mandatory obedience with treats. Sorry, it’s not going to happen. Has it happened? I said never earlier. I should allowed some room for exceptions because I’m sure there’s some dog somewhere that are naturally wired, you use treats and they’re going to be perfect gentleman and gentlewoman. But that is not the majority of dogs. Treats never get you to a level of training that’s optimal. So, in any case, using corrections, we get to a point where obedience is the rule, but using a lot of motivation, we get to a point where it’s also fun and enjoyable. And so it is completely possible when you’re using a stabilized approach to training to have a dog that is happily obedient to your commands. Not only happily obedient, but reliably obedient. People that do treat training all the time say, “My dog is obedient.” And I’ll dig deeper. I say, “Okay, does your dog stay when you tell him to?” “Yeah!” “Will he stay for twenty minutes while you eat dinner?” “No.” “Will he stay when somebody rings the doorbell?” “No.” “Will he stay when he’s outside and he sees another dog running past him?” “No.” Well guess what, he’s not obedient. “Does your dog come when called?” “Oh, yeah, he comes when called.” “Does he come when called when he sees a bike or a dog or a kid going past?” “Oh, no.” Okay, well guess what folks, he’s not obedient. That’s the level of obedience that we get through treat training. We get that level of obedience that is fake. You know that the dog is obedient when he feels like it, when there’s a treat involved, but he’s not obedient out of any respect for you.
And so again, folks, the take away I want you to take from today’s show is this concept of find stability in your approach. If you’re too polarized on one end or another you’re screwing up. If it’s love and rainbow and ponies, you’re screwing up. If it’s all about harsh and yelling and crank the dog with power, you’re screwing up. We need to find the middle ground that is fair but fair corrections, tons of motivation, and then you’re going to have the dog of your dreams. It’s just that simple. I’ve proven the concept out thousands of times with my clients and it will work with your dog too.
So, thanks for listening to the show today. Time for you to get to work with your dog.