Did you take a gander at Cesar Millan’s book yet? Like I said, it is very old school but contains commentary about the cultural differences regarding pets. Here is another pet commentary from an African living in America.
In an affluent society people fail to understand why people from other countries are mortified over pet obsession. Remember the tsunami? Those agencies helping pets really had a hard time with some of the locals who needed food and water. Humans simply did not understand or appreciate the efforts directed toward animals.
In the meantime, Cesar Millan is being sued and long commentaries exist over the topic. I betcha it is great for book sales!
About a year ago a publicist asked me about the “Dog Whisperer.” My comment was that National Geographic was savvy regarding the changing US demographics (Hispanic population on the rise) and finding an attractive host, but that I wouldn’t take such risks with my clients. Also, he uses old school techniques. He is marketable, camera friendly, and willing to take on hard core cases others won’t. I have a pal (Dr. Larry Lachman) who does the same thing using behavior modification and more palatable techniques and the cases are just as severe.
While I am at it, just let me say that the only thing two trainers agree on is what the third is doing wrong!
Anyway, locally the issue came up regarding a trainer who uses older, harsher techniques. One of my fans works at a local pet store and recommended a head halter device for a dog instead of the choke chain the trainer requested. My reply? Sell the owner the equipment the trainer requested.
I’ve had people sell a prong collar to one of my students. I am really not into them or choke collars, and so I scheduled an appointment with the manager and had a chat over the faux pas. It is bad manners to undermine another. It is okay to disagree and better to educate.
Anyway, the public gets mislead all the time and the recent wave of “positive reinforcement” misleads many. Behavior modification uses BOTH positive and negative.
One of my community projects is geared to move people away from misconceptions and teach them behavior and more palatable options for training animals. During my Canine Club this week owners learned about training differences. He is a short summary:
Affection training was coined by a popular animal acting firm in the 1970’s and popularized around the nation. Positive reinforcement, aka clicker training, is based on conditioning techniques credited in the 1960’s to BF Skinner (and a few of his colleagues). The concept was most recently taken into the dog world by Karen Pryor in the 1980’s and popularized through her seminars and events in the 1990’s.
However my research leads me to believe those techniques actually began in the 1800’s at the Hagenbeck Zoo in Germany. The Hagenbecks were innovators in exhibiting and training animals.
Today those techniques have been repackaged and sold. We all have our angles. They all contain many of the same elements, tools, and the difference is in the apptitude, application, and skill of the trainer.
My toolbox includes whatever works best for the dog and owner AND personality profiling of owner and animal. In “What Animals Can Teach Us about Spirituality: Inspiring Lessons of Wild & Tame Creatures” I introduce the four main categories I see across species and breeds of animals. Alternative techniques are included with the more scientific applications, too. This gives people tools to use with their new information.
Anyway, most traditional dog training (like Cesar’s) stem from war time training techniques to get the dog ready and working quickly. The Koehler Method of Dog Training popularized those methods and still permeates society along with all sorts of odd mythology related to pets and training.
So, is force training, harsh training? What defines cruelty or over the line techniques? Is euthanasia better than rehabilitation? It depends on who you ask.
Continuing your education gives you more tools and innovative ways to address problems–and you want as many solutions as possible. I say that there are millions of animals that refrain from biting and overt aggression so why have the liablity and put others at risk. I am willing to work with clients but euthanasia is an option I mention in severe situations because there may be a time and a place and conditions that would place someone at risk again. Then again, I was raised in a pragmatic Hispanic household.
At any rate, the bottom line is do your homework and pick a trainer you are comfortable working with and that your animal responds to. Humane training results in a happy, compliant animal.
Check out these books. I hope you will read mine and I can recommend Dr Larry’s and Marlo’s. But be sure to check the others out and educate yourself: