The goal of pet dog training is to have fun using quick and easy techniques to create an internally-reinforced, self-motivated dog — under reliable verbal control when off-leash, at a distance, and distracted, and without the continued need of any training aid.
However, off-leash training has become rare and temporary training aids, such as food, halters, leashes and shock, have become permanent management tools. Dog training has become overly-complicated, time-consuming, technical and impersonal — lacking in communication, interaction and relationship. I feel that dog training has lost its way.
In learning theory experiments, computers had to use food and shock because they could neither praise nor reprimand. However, we can.
When we use verbal feedback, we transcend many of the severe constraints of computer-generated (non-verbal) learning theory. Reinforcement becomes altogether richer (analogue instead of quantum), letting the dog know, he got it right and how well he did. Punishment becomes a thing of the past. Even when effective, punishment is woefully insufficient. When dogs misbehave, they require instruction, not pain.
Let’s put our voices back into training.
Let’s phase out food lures in the first session.
Let’s phase out food rewards and replace them with life rewards
Let’s use much more effective reinforcement schedules.
Let’s correct misbehavior without causing fear or pain.
Let’s quantify so we have proof that we are training.
Let’s put relationship back into dog training.
And let’s have FUN!