Expanding Upon Obedience Vs. Behavior
Last week, I touched upon the differences between Obedience and Behavior training. Commands like Sit and Down to a dog are like Math and Science to a human. When dealing with Behavior, it’s more along the lines of teaching your dog morals to create a model canine citizen. Don’t jump, don’t bite, don’t bark when I leave, etcetera. Obedience doesn’t address those issues because it’s about the state of mind the dog is in…kinda…
Training strictly through food is not teaching a dog to be obedient, it is merely teaching them to do a response that garners them a reward. They still have the option not to do it. I get so many clients, that come from purely positive trainers, with dogs that are still not reliable with commands and that pull like hell because the dog rather do what they choose instead.
You see, training solely through Positive Reinforcement doesn’t stabilize a dog’s brain which tends to be the number one factor in behavior. Without boundaries and consequences, a dog’s brain can get overstimulated and they simply cannot process things clearly like if they were to be in a more passive state. The implementation of aversives helps to do just that when done correctly and used appropriately. This is how in some instances I can use Obedience to alleviate the symptoms. Because it comes from a place of discipline.
The video below is a case I worked on about a year and half ago. Crosby is a Wheaton Terrier mix that had very, and I mean VERY, high anxiety when they took him outside. He came out with a yipping and barking that wasn’t really directed at anything, he was just very high strung and very reactive. In the first half of the video, you can see in his eyes that he’s not mentally there he’s so lost in his head.
They had worked with a trainer before that used aversives, but Crosby was still a very anxious pooch. Part of the reason was the tool that was being used. He was on a Starmark collar if I remember correctly. Similar to a prong, but made of plastic triangular teeth. When dealing with fearful, nervous or anxious dogs, direct physical correction can make the behavior worse because it’s too confrontational.
We did remote collar work with him and he made a huge jump in behavior by the time I saw him for the second class. He was calmer, focused and not overloaded with all the stimuli in the environment. It wasn’t just the tool that helped him. It was the psychology in how the tool was applied because it spoke to his mind directly. It was discipline.
So he is an example of a case where Obedience can be used to work through behavioral problems. It didn’t address all the behaviors, but it did accomplish a lot. The behaviors that lingered we dealt with in a more direct fashion to curb them so it was a blend of different approaches.
Well, that wraps up this week’s newsletter. Thank you again for all your support and don’t forget to share so that we can find Hugo his forever home and your friend’s can get a bit of education on Dog Psychology 101 as well!
Owner – Operator
Canine Perspective, Inc.