"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

Puppy and Obedience Training Without Food or Fear

Purely Positive Training Nonsense

– Posted in: Columns

Hi John,

We have brought a bulldog cross now about 12 weeks of age. The nipping is getting a bit aggressive.  Her teeth are quite sharp and have injured my wife and daughter. She literally hung by her tooth embedded in the skin of my daughter’s leg, needless to say my daughter has not warmed up to the dog since. She also left a sizeable bruise and distinct teeth marks in my wife’s leg as well. I have little marks all up and down my wrists and hands. We do not believe in hitting with hands, newspapers or the like. We believe in positive reinforcement only. To date we have tried a water bottle, marbles in a little can, a firm no and of course many chew toys.

Steven B.

Hi Steven,

Spraying water, and shaking marbles in a can at a dog isn’t positive reinforcement so I suspect you like many dog owners have been misled as to its definition. All positive dog training is a classic example of the Emperor’s New Clothes fairy tale. I’m told by all positive trainers that their approach is based on science. Certainly not any practical sciences like biology, ethology, and psychology to name a few. It simply doesn’t exist anywhere in nature but we keep being told to train our dogs that way.

Think of dogs, wolves, apes, human beings etc. Can you think of a single one that has young that was raised with all positive? None that are alive anyway. “Sweetie, don’t play with the bear.” They’re all about a balance of positive and negative. I’ll be darned if some dog trainer that thinks that the dog is the only species on the planet that once it leaves its mother has to be treated like a deity is going to wreck my dog by turning it into a juvenile delinquent out of fear that a little discipline is going to wreck his self-esteem for life.

Here’s a quote from a real all positive trainer I know; “I currently have a client whose arms were full of puppy nips.” She advised saying “Ack!”. If the ACK didn’t work the client was to turn her back. Here is the joyous result, “By week 3 her arms were clear of marks.  She was so happy, she showed all of us her arms and said “LOOK” !!!!!”

Three weeks to get results and they were ecstatic! If that had been the pups mother on the receiving end of those nips it would have been a 3 second trip into reality land with a final destination to the city of 3B’s “Bye-Bye-Behaviour”. I can assure you that there wouldn’t be any  “Acking” or back turning, marbles in a can, or water bottles involved. She’d be on that pup like a politician on a pay out and there’d be yipping, yiping and yelping to beat the band, which translated into English would be, “Sorry mom!” Are you sure it was me mom?, Never again mom! I’ll be more careful mom!” Once it was over the pups mother would have balanced the discipline with some loving.

Ask yourself, is that mother dog inhumane or is she just being a responsible mother teaching her puppy bite inhibition so that it can work well with other dogs as it grows up?”

Your alligator, (I mean dog) needs what nature designed for it, a balanced trainer – you. Not some slavering Cruella de Vil and not some sugar and spice everything nice, unicorn riding person with a treat pouch. You’ll find a good balanced trainer will show you how to be a lot more subtle then your pup’s mom would be. She probably had eight kids after all.

You really don’t need this explained, you’re raising a child but maybe you’ve found an all positive way of doing that and if so the country awaits your secret.

John Wade

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