Behavior modification aside (you know me -- fear issues = counterconditioning and desensitization), there are many different ways to train a dog. It's not my intention here to tell you what methods you should use. I have friends who use all different quadrants of operant conditioning. I have found the methods that work for me (positive reinforcement) and will recommend my choices when others ask me for advice. However, I fully respect those who use any others, provided they love their dog, understand the science behind each method, and are not abusive of any training tool, be it positive or negative.
All that said..
Perhaps I'm behind on the times, but I've just discovered a Canadian man by the name of Brad Pattison who claims to be a dog trainer. To say I am appalled would be a drastic understatement. I'm no fan of Cesar Millan and I totally denounce dominance as an explanation for dog behavior or a viable means of training. However, this guy makes Cesar looks like a pussycat. I wasn't aware that that was possible.
There is not much video out there of him in action. (Apparently, he and his cronies made a big stink about the videos showing his brutal methods at his seminars and had them all taken down). But, I found this.
The video captions do a pretty good job of explaining what's going on. The dog looked up at Pattison three times. When the dog saw he was being ignored, he moved elsewhere. Isn't that what you would do if you were trying to communicate with someone and they weren't giving you any feedback? Pattison set the dog up to fail.
The magnitude of that leash correction was totally unfair as well. The dog wasn't even pulling - it just got out in front (thought by some to mean that the dog is being "dominant" - not something I buy at all).
Here is another clip.
I watched a video of him teaching a dog to sit by holding it up by the leash so that its front legs dangled off of the ground. There are various text testimonials from his seminars floating around on YouTube, but they don't actually show what happened. One says he dragged a dog up and down the stairs. Another says he punched a dog in the face. If the descriptions are true, this Pattison guy is one really mean man.
Pattison claims that using treats for training is "bribery," which totally ignores the science of reinforcement. Reinforcing a behavior makes it more likely the the behavior will happen again. Some behaviors can be so reinforced that the dog will perform them even if they know you don't have a treat. Using a variable reinforcement schedule AND using rewards other than treats also ensures that the dog is not working "only" for the food.
Personally, I don't mind carrying treats with me everywhere I go (and do so mainly because there are fear issues involved), but I don't need to use them all the time. Brad Pattison might be shocked to know of all the behaviors Marge knows and will perform without the use of constant treats. I'd like to see him drag a dog around and use punishment to teach agility. Something tells me that he wouldn't even be able to make the unchallenging Novice course times because his dog would trot around the course with its tail tucked under its legs.
I wrote him a strongly-worded e-mail. I'm sure it will get no where, but I will share it on this blog so that perhaps someone out there who has been lulled into these very dangerous ideas can see another side to the story.
"I am absolutely appalled after watching your training videos and hearing your explanations of dog training. You are absolutely delusional if you believe that treat training is more injurious to a dog than your brutality is.I really wonder how someone like this can snag their own TV show. I also wonder who came up with this horrible, horrible idea that dogs are intrinsically evil, dominant beings. So much for having a healthy relationship with your pets.
I understand that there is an old-school train of thought for training, but your methods far surpass it. They make no sense. We must vary our dogs' feeding time so that they don't become "dominant?" Yet, at the same time, you anthropomorphize dogs by saying they need different "flavors" of food? It seems like you've strewn random ideas together and have used them to prey upon the innocent public who need help training their dogs and don't know that they should run far, far away from your regimens.
You may be able to convince the average pet owner that your methods work, but that's because they do not see the avoidance and fear that you instill in their dogs. For someone like me, a knowledgeable person who is active in dog sports, punishment won't go very far. My dog must be HAPPY to work for me. Using treats has accomplished that. And no, I don't need to use them all the time.. they were a teaching tool. They made the behavior desirable for her to do (operant conditioning). Now, they have been so reinforced that she will sit, stay, stand, down, perform various tricks, recall, pay attention to me, walk on a loose leash, and RUN AN ENTIRE AGILITY COURSE without the use of treats. I'd really like to see you accomplish that using your barbaric leash-dragging, overbearing and unfair leash corrections, and delusional idea that dogs are dominant and want nothing more than to take over the world.
As a person who has successfully rehabilitated an extremely fearful dog using nothing but POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT (no, not bribery, but instead scientifically proven methods), I pray that God have mercy on any dog who falls into your web of training lies."
You'll have to excuse me for now. My dog is being dominant.. she's asking to go lay out in the sun for the umpteenth time this morning. I must see to this issue!!!.. by granting her what her little fuzzy butt wants.