The Hidden Cost to Dog Owner and Society
The concept of "obedience" for dogs and accordingly also the idea of "disobedience" is
- and costly
to the society as a whole, not just to the individual dog owner.
"Huh, what??" you must be thinking. "How can that be! The entire dog world is built upon obedience!" Well, no and yes. Yes because:
- Obedience dog training is HUGE, yes
- Obedience competition is HUGE, yes
- Obedience in dog shows is HUGE, yes
- The APDT, the AKC, and even grandma's tea party in the suburbs, ALL are keen on dog obedience, yes
- Obedience is so HUGE in almost every article and TV show that has ever aired that too few people dare to question the sense and purpose of the concept of "obedience" for dogs.
- Dog obedience is misguided because the concept of "obedience" is purely human, it has nothing to do with the nature of dogs
- Dog obedience is foolish because an "obedient" dog naturally is only "obedient" when the owner/handler/trainer is nearby (if at all) and so the dog feels she will be "rewarded" or avoid "punishment" in some form if she behaves in a certain way. But today's owner/handler/trainer has a job to do and cannot always be in an arm's reach of the dog
- Dog obedience is painful because it is this training to behave different subject to who is present that causes dog bite wounds, the mauling of children, destroyed home interiors, scared family members, and frustrated dog owners - even while the owner may have been nearby!
- And dog obedience is costly because a training outcome where the dog had to learn to behave different subject to who is around is ineffective whenever the owner/handler/trainer is not around - which is often! Dog liability insurers have the details, dog owners pay the premium, and victims pay the price!
This must end.
YOU can be the tipping point to help make it end. Link to us. Send others here. Speak about it.
Obedience Training for dogs appears to be the only dog training that today's generations of dog trainers know. So no surprise that it also is the only dog training that dog owners know and apply, one way or another.
What is Obedience Training anyway?
By its very name, all forms of Obedience Training comprise an element of lure or reward, or force or fear to get the dog "obedient", as well as some form of punishment for "disobedience". Whether the punishment is to withhold the lure or reward, or to jerk on the leash, or to raise the arm in a threatening way, or whatever else. Because when you expect the dog to be "obedient" then you must have some form of punishment when the dog is not.
The dog trainers who believe they are the good ones use only lure and/or reward, and the other dog trainers who also believe they are the good ones - and that only they can effectively train dogs - they use force and/or fear in addition to lure and/or reward.
Although often criticized, Cesar Millan is not so foolish to only use force and fear, that is a misrepresentation. All dog trainers I have ever met or seen use lure and/or reward, even where not exclusively. And today almost all of them use "treats" as the lure or reward, even where not exclusively, since the use of force and fear has gotten a bad reputation. You may have seen this with household names like Ian Dunbar and now the youtube shooting star Zak George?
At MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG we call that "treat training" and we reject that like all other forms of Obedience Training as the prime focus of dog trainers and owners, club functionaries and competition judges. Still!
What are the Problems with ALL forms of Obedience Training?
There are many problems with Obedience Training, but the most striking problem is: When you use any form of Obedience Training, the dog behaves "well" only while you are there - if at all. This is because only when you are near the dog, you can use lure or reward, or force or fear to get the dog to do what you want - or to stop doing something you don't want. And because the dog is aware that only when you are near the dog, you can use some form of punishment when the dog does not meet your expectations.
Again the punishment may just be that you withhold the lure or reward, but you can't do that either when you aren't with the dog. And so whenever you aren't around (you are at work or grocery shopping, or taking the kids to school or the grandma to the doctor, or whatever) the dog is very much aware that neither (s)he can hope to get a treat nor (s)he has to fear your use of force.
What is the COST of Obedience Training?
The consequences of this biggest flaw of Obedience Training alone are manifold:
- from plain "potty accidents"
- to destroyed furniture at home
- from running off and not coming when called
- to attacking children, the postman, or anyone else when outdoors
- or even attacking someone on the fenced property!
While dog owners routinely notice the ramifications of Obedience Training in their own home - although they don't relate them to the form of training they chose to undertake! - the ramifications that Obedience Training has for the society as a whole are on an entirely different level: The mauling of children and adults by dogs would not happen if
a) the dog owners are always with their dog - which obviously they cannot, or
b) the dog owners use our Behavior Training far more than Obedience Training.
Indeed the cost of Obedience Training to the individual dog owner and to the society as a whole is SO HIGH, dog owners (and authorities) will wish they had known of an alternative years ago.
What is the alternative to Obedience Training?
Noticing the inherent flaws of Obedience Training, Tim Carter as the founder of MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG realized at the beginning of the third millennium that we currently share, that Obedience Training needs to be replaced by something better. Something that better meets the dog's inherited traits and psychology. Something that doesn't mislead dog owners into believing that they have trained their dog - or that a professional dog trainer has trained their dog - when all that has been done is to entice or to frighten the dog while you were there, or while the trainer was there.
This is why Tim Carter developed Behavior Training to better meet the needs of the dog and of today's dog owner. And although you can now find a few professional dog trainers who started to use the term Behavior Training as well, when you look at their actual offering you see that again it is nothing but Obedience Training in a new dress.
What means Behavior Training - to us?
Behavior Training as we understand it means that we behave in a way that motivates the dog to behave the way we want. Building up this intrinsic motivation is the reason why this kind of dog training takes longer, but also why then the dog habitually behaves the same - regardless whether we are there or not. At this point our desired dog behavior has become the dog's daily nature.
Our Behavior Training is void of the idea of "obedience" and "disobedience". There is no reward and no punishment for behavior. When you think about it, reward and punishment for dog behavior don't even make sense because dogs naturally behave different than people. So why reward or punish nature? Dog owners really have been misled for decades.
Instead, with our form of Behavior Training we merely change our own behavior when we are unhappy with the dog's behavior. And we change our own behavior in a way that motivates the dog to behave the way we want. Hopefully, we want well?
This means we must be able to be conscious and self-critical of our own behavior, and we must be able to read the dog's body language . Note that dogs learn everything from what we do, and next to nothing from what we say. When you think "the dog learned my command" then the dog really learned from your body language.
In short, our proprietary form of Behavior Training raises dogs that ultimately want to behave the way we want: well. And thus they do so out of routine, habitually. While all forms of Obedience Training raise dogs that very quickly understand that they have to behave the way we want: to get some kind of treat, or to avoid some form of punishment. And thus they do so only when they feel they are being closely monitored.
The implications of using this revolutionary dog training approach
The fundamental differences in these approaches to dog training also have significant implications, the most striking of which is: A behavior-trained dog that is fully house-trained can safely be left alone at home with free run of the house and property (to "guard" it, for instance). While with an obedience-trained dog you cannot, you rely on luck. And sometimes you come back and you will find that the dog deranged or destroyed something in the home, or attacked children or the postman or whoever! Dog liability insurers calculate the likelihood of these incidents and set premiums accordingly.
In fact, drawing on our massive database of dog owner HELP! requests here, we can reliably conclude: If it wasn't for all those - even paid for! - "Obedience Classes" & Co, then our society would hardly know of "dog bite" incidents (spare for unethical and criminal owners) and dog owners up and down the country (any country!) wouldn't lock up their dogs - or chain them! - which really drives dogs mad. Like it would drive you mad too. You bet.
Since our ancestors for at least 70,000 dog generations have domesticated the dogs that we prize today, we cannot and must not think we can suddenly roll this back within 50 or what dog generations - just because we foolishly jumped on the fashion that Dog Obedience Training is.
Dog Obedience gets massively overemphasized by "professional" dog trainers, competition sponsors, show organizers, dog sport clubs, etc. And so by dog owners too. Regardless which breed of dog or mix they have. But now you know what you can expect to get when you choose Obedience Training for your dog as your only dog training approach. So better choose wisely.