I might get a lot of hate for this post, but oh well. Come at me, bro! 😉
So, I’m a bit puzzled by the hard-core positive reinforcement trainers, which shall now be referred to as +r.
I’m completely anti-Cesar Milan because the bullshit dominance theory has been debunked several times over, and the guy is an abusive fuck.
I don’t believe in prong collars, e-collars, shock collars, or leash popping either. I’m all for positive reinforcement and think that can solve 99.9% of issues that crop up when you are being a dog owner.
However, some people, like the ones in the FB group “Beyond Cesar Milan” think that body blocking and going “eh-eh” when a dog is misbehaving is bad because it’s aversive.
Uhh…what the fuck? This has got to be a relatively new trend because I swear I did not see this sort of bullshit when I hired a +r for Zoe last year.
The trainer I used for Zoe was pretty good, however I’m sure that FB group would attempt to eat her alive because if Zoe was being a little shit, she gave the thumbs up for going “eh-eh” not as a punishment, but as a way of saying “nope, this is TOTALLY NOT COOL YO” so that you can show the dog what it is you want them to do.
She also encouraged the use of body blocking if the situation really called for it, but obviously not for ever little thing–only as a “if you really, really need to” clause.
Her approach, and I agree is: firm but gentle, and keeping training short, sweet, and very, very upbeat.
Honestly? It worked. If I sense that Zoe is going to be reactive towards…let’s say a UPS truck or a car or something, I just quietly but firmly tell her “eh-eh” as a reminder that dude, you know better and then I tell her “leave it” and give her lots and lots of praise for doing so.
Even Patricia McConnell agrees that sometimes going “eh-eh” and body blocking is fine, if the situation calls for it.
However, I think it all boils down to using common sense and knowing your dog. It is IMPOSSIBLE to be 100% purely +r because we’re humans, and we get frustrated.
As long as most of the time you’re being gentle and upbeat, I really don’t think a firm “eh-eh” or a body block so a dog doesn’t grab a sock is going to destroy your dog, especially if you use it as an interrupter so you can give a command and praise the dog for doing whatever the command was correctly.
I don’t think you should go “eh-eh” on really, really sensitive dogs though, because that might cause them to shut down. But with those types of cases, you’d probably want to find a certified and skilled +r trainer anyway to come up with a good management plan anyway.
But I’m totally baffled and I won’t lie, I side-eye the FUCK out of some of the militant “even mild aversives are baaaaad” and people having to sign contracts and shit saying they will be 100% force-free, which is ridiculous imo.
Life (and dogs) are not black and white, it’s shades of grey.
I kind of wonder if this is tied into the yuppie parents never ever being firm with their kids and letting them run wild. I’m not saying you should yell, hit, spank, or emotionally abuse your kids, but there are times where you have to be gentle but firm with a child, especially if let’s say they’re trying to touch a candle or something.
Why isn’t common sense common anymore?