Reader Defends Positive Training Methods

By Ross, John | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, October 12, 2008 | Go to article overview

Reader Defends Positive Training Methods


Ross, John, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Dear Dog Talk: I recently read your "Dog Talk" column about training.

Like most positive trainers, I consider myself a "crossover" trainer who used aversive corrective traditional training methods in the past. I knew no other methods.

I am regularly involved in discussions with "balanced," or traditional, trainers who almost always become patronizing and condescending and try to marginalize the methods incorporated by positive trainers. We are called "treat-slingers."

Training with treats is not the basis of positive training methods.

It interested me that you consider positive training a "fad or trend" that you feel should have faded away. I never would have thought methods that are humane, effective and easy, which are fun for both owner and dog, would be a bad thing.

Positive training methods have been used successfully for decades by trainers and handlers who must interact regularly with large and dangerous animals such as orcas, lions, tigers, elephants, primates, etc. This fact never seems to be addressed or discussed by traditional trainers.

Are corrections effective only on smaller, less dangerous animals that are easier to control? Is there a reason that force has given way to behavioral modification, rewards and conditioning in handling, managing and working with zoo animals and sea mammals?

I am interested in knowing how positive methods have been essential and successful in communicating with other species but dismissed as ineffective and a "fad" when applied to our companion dogs.

Another statement made by "Kemo Sabe" is he felt that positive- only training has been more harmful than anything else to owners' relationships with their dogs. How so?

With the guidance of a reputable positive trainer or through books, any owner can learn the reasoning behind positive methods and how to apply them effectively.

Cesar Millan (who is far from a positive trainer) states reasons why pet owners have problems. None of his reasons was attributed to an owner properly attempting positive-training methods. Suppressing behaviors or reactions are far more dangerous and concerning. …

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