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Tyler: 2010 adventures
Non dominance training
Is Cesar Millan wrong?
Yes and no.
Dog training is as difficult to understand as raising a child. I never had children but at age 59 I got Tyler the Wonder Dog. At first I took him to a place that trains German Shepherds for police dogs. But the vibes felt wrong. Finally I found an enlightened trainer, Donna Soderstrom, who saved my relationship with Tyler.

Then one morning as I woke up something extraordinary occurred. I was paid a visit by Tyler's soul. Maybe it was his "dog spirit" or his Guardian Angel; whatever you want to call it. But something other than myself was communicating to me—making it clear that I had to reach higher to understand. I had to learn to love my dog at a deeper level.
We already have everything the dog wants. We are already "dominant."
Power struggles with dogs communicate no more leadership than an adult human in a physical struggle with a small child...(we have) priority access to ...the resources that dogs want. By maintaining control of ...food, access and attention, and not giving them away for free or on demand, it is not necessary to get into power struggles with our dogs. We already have everything the dog wants. We are already "dominant." The trick is to not give those resources away for free, or on demand.

Dominance-based training methods are very energy-intensive... constantly react to the actions of the dog, such as a leash correction for growling...This is not how the "dominant" individuals behave - it is, however, how insecure individuals behave. So these "calm-assertive" methods communicate the insecurity of a bully, rather than leadership.

[http://www.4pawsu.com/dogpsychology.htm]
Dr. Yin
(left) This embedded YouTube video is posted on http://www.askdryin.com/dominance.php with a discussion of its meaning.
Is the puppy trying to assert higher rank here?

No. The puppy is ... just trying to get attention. Even if they don't pet or talk to him when he's sitting on their lap, the act of being in bodily contact with them is a form of attention.

• If they only petted him when he was sitting on the floor and stood up immediately when he jumped on their lap, then he would instead develop a habit of sitting on the floor.
The American Society of Animal Behavior
Non-dominance training [my edited version from a boringly long PDF]
...with our pets, priority access to resources is not the major concern. ...behaviors owners want to modify, such as excessive vocalization, unruly greetings, and failure to come when called, are not related to valued resources and may not even involve aggression.

...these behaviors occur because they have been inadvertently rewarded and because alternate appropriate behaviors have not been trained instead. Consequently, what owners really want is not to gain dominance, but to obtain the ability to influence their pets to perform behaviors willingly —which is one accepted definition of leadership [Knowles and Saxberg 1970; Yin 2009].

Most unruly behaviors in dogs occur not out of the desire to gain higher rank, but simply because the undesirable behaviors have been rewarded. For instance, dogs jump on people and climb into their laps because when they do so, they get attention.

We emphasize that animal training, behavior prevention strategies, and behavior modification programs should follow the scientifically based guidelines of positive reinforcement, operant conditioning, classical conditioning, desensitization, and counter conditioning.

The AVSAB recommends ...trainers and behavior consultants who understand the principles of learning theory --
focus on reinforcing desirable behaviors and removing the reinforcement for undesirable behaviors.

...leadership should be attained by more positive means— rewarding appropriate behaviors and using desired resources as reinforcers for these behaviors.

Leadership is established when a pet owner can consistently set clear limits for behavior and effectively communicate the rules by immediately rewarding the correct behaviors...preventing access to or removing the rewards for undesirable behaviors before these undesirable behaviors are reinforced.

Owners must avoid reinforcing undesirable behaviors and only reinforce the desirable behaviors frequently enough and consistently enough for the good behaviors to become a habit (Yin 2007).
[http://www.avsabonline.org]

Do your own research
Psychology is a big subject. If you skipped college you may not have had classroom instruction about operant conditioning, Pavlov, or Dr. Skinner.

But we all know about love. The quote "We already have everything the dog wants." (above) from 4pawsu.com is a brilliant declaration of what I needed to incorporate into my relationship with Tyler.

I was, at first, opposed to giving treats all the time to my dog. Now I understand much better why positive rewards are so essential.

The bottom line is that its about love. Real, pure, unselfish love. Love for a species that has adapted to living with us, depending upon us, over thousands of years.

Not only is a dog "Man's best friend" but keep in mind it is also god spelled backwards.

More adventures of Tyler the Wonder Dog...

Tyler: 2009 HOME | Tyler: 2010 adventures


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