False Dichotomy to justify force training

Force free training is catching on. More and more folks are looking for ways to train their dogs without using pain, fear, startle, force , or intimidation. A lot of trainers are crossing over as well.  But there are some force trainers who believe their way is better.  As the public becomes more educated, it can be harder and harder to convince people that force training is a desirable method of dog training.

One of tactics that force trainers use is “False Dichotomy”  – creating an either/or situation. Such as if we don’t correct this dog using force, he/she is going to die.  Used often in rescue or shelter situations.  Most of the time this is a whole spectrum of choices between hurt a dog or kill a dog.

Here are the problems with this with creating this extreme of the spectrum (correct or die)

  1. There are a lot of dogs who need to be rescued. Some of them have big issues; some of them have small issues; some of them are friendly and well socialized; some of them are already well trained.  Some have even been working dogs – police dogs, therapy dogs, service dogs etc..

Rescue agencies should make a decision – if they want to save as many dogs as possible by pulling them from shelters and adopting them as soon as possible, it would make more sense to pull the friendly, well socialized dogs who have no or few issues. Get them checked out medically then adopt them out as soon as possible.

If their goal is to help special needs dogs, then they should be prepared to save fewer dogs. Pull the ones who have issues, then take the time needed to resolve or mitigate those issues. They will also need to take the time needed to find good foster homes and/or experienced, well screened adopters.

  1. Suppressing an undesirable behavior (such as growling or barking) does not get to the root of the issue (resource guarding, fear, abuse, etc..). And using pain, fear, startle or intimidation (such as leash pops) only suppresses communication.  So we still have a dog who is afraid but who can’t express that fear.  In essence this practice creates a dog who is more dangerous.  Potential adopters will see a quiet dog and assume he is  “well balanced”. But what they have is a dog who might bite without warning. Basically we are tricking families into adopting a dog who has special needs that have not been addressed.
  1. If rescues and trainers feel that the only option is correction or euthanasia, they should re evaluate what issues would justify euthanasia. A dog who growls but doesn’t bite? A dog who bites but barely breaks skin? A dog who has sent people to the hospital?
  1. In general, force training can create mental or physical fallout.


Growling is Good: http://www.stubbypuddin.com/2014/02/growling-is-good.html

Euthanizing a Biting Dog: http://www.stubbypuddin.com/2014/02/my-dog-bit-someone-do-i-have-to.html

Dangers of Choke Chains: http://www.stubbypuddin.com/2014/04/dangers-of-choke-chains.html

The Problem With Startle Methods: http://blog.mysanantonio.com/latrenda/tag/startle-methods/

The Problem with Spritzing: https://www.facebook.com/groups/20444826822/permalink/10152571734496823/

See this site for some information how to work on common behavior issues  (force free)- Jumping Up, Loose Leash Walking, etc.. http://www.stubbypuddin.com/

Have You Enabled An Animal Hoarder?

When you find a stray dog or cat, do you search for the original family by placing ads, flyers, etc.? Do you start contacting shelters? Or do you hand the pet over to the person down the street who always rescues strays?

If someone doesn’t pick up a stray or help you with a lost or hurt animal – do purposely try make that person feel guilty? Even if he already have 3 pets, 3 kids and 2 jobs?

You know your friend has a soft spot for Bichons. Every time you see a Bichon in a shelter or a Bichon in need, do you call your friend? Even though he is already at his legal limit for pets?

Do you hand stray cats over to the town cat lady? Because “Well, even though she is caring for 100 cats by herself, it’s better than letting this cat die at a shelter.” Or “She already has 100; what’s one more?”

Do you have a dedicated volunteer at your shelter? One who comes in 30 hours a week for free at the shelter and takes in fosters. When he adopts special needs dogs that no one else wants, how do you thank him? Do you use your contacts to get him free or low cost medical or training help? Or do you ask him to adopt even more hard to place dogs or cats?

If you are in a bind with your pets and you need free boarding, do you ask a neighbor who is petless or only has one pet? Or do you ask the person who has 6 dogs because you know that she can’t say no when a neighbor asks for help?

When someone drops everything to assist you with an animal in need how do you thank her? Do you buy her dinner or do you tell all your friends, “Betty will drop everything to help people. If you have an animal in need, call Betty.”

Many animal hoarders start out with the best intentions but they get overwhelmed. Try not to contribute to that. Try not to overburden those who are already doing so much.

When we ask for help, think about ways we can provide help. We can’t take in every animal in need. But when he hand over a dog to rescuer, follow up. Call and ask how you can help her care for the dog she took off your hands. Walking, grooming, ferrying to the vet for spay/neuter?. Next time you are at the the pet store, pick up an extra bag of food for the friend with too many Bichons. Doing laundry and find an extra 20 dollars that you didn’t know you had? Give it to the town cat lady.


Why treat a dog who is doing nothing?

From Chill Out Fido!: How to Calm Your Dog (Dogwise Training Manual) by Nan Kene Arthur

The best way to explain this would be for you to consider all the things your dog could be doing besides sniffing the ground, sitting, or lying down-such as jumping up on you, harking at you, whining, chewing his leash, etc. You are rewarding those spaces in time when your dog is actually doing an acceptable behavior (exhibiting relaxed behaviors) in contrast to the ones most people do not want! As you reward these calm moments, the calmness will start to grow stronger because, as you have learned, dogs repeat bethat result in rewards.

How do I help my dog feel better about visitors?

Remember to never ever punish the dog for her fear/aggression towards strangers. No yelling, startling, leash yanking, hitting, etc..

SecondAs the benevolent leader, your are responsible for your dog. If anyone tries to touch your dog when she is upset, step in front, block that person from touching your dog. If the person doesn’t want to listen, then either remove your dog (no snatching or yanking) or politely ask the visitor to leave.

Since your dog has already formed a negative association with visitors, I suggest that you and your roommates come to an agreement that you not have any guests over for 1 week. This will give your dog a little time to de-stress while you get to work on a non aversive way to help her with her issues.

The Book Scardey Dog more thoroughly explains how these stress hormones can build up and why it’s important to allow a de-stress period.

Since you know your dog is going to get upset about visitors, don’t have her out when visitors arrive. Ask your visitors to call from their cells as they pull up to your house/apartment. That way:

1. This will give you time to put your dog into her crate or another room and she won’t associate the crate with a bad thing – visitors. Not at first anyway. Be sure to acclimate her to a crate if she isn’t used to one.

2. The doorbell won’t get her all revved up

Something else that might help. When you know somone is coming over, take your dog outside. Let her greet the visitors outside then walk in the residence togther or let the guest go in in first then let the dog in. If this upsets her then go back to management – keeping her away from scary people.

Teach an alternate behaviorI would start with just the doorbell and teach the dog an alternative behavior. Teach your dog to “go to place” or “go fetch” or “go to crate” or “go get your toy, ” or “ sit.”
Then put it on cue with the door bell. You don’t want the dog to see YOU ring the doorbell. Your roommate or another friend can help with this. Remember to teach any and all commands using positive reinforcement only. Using aversive methods to train then asking for those commands can invoke negative feelings towards the strangers.
No yanking, yelling, pushing, etc.. Actually, don’t use your hands at all.
I believe that Patricia McConnell’s book “The Other End of the Leash” has more details on this.

Desensitization and Counter Conditioning
Get your dog used to people coming over through desensitization and counter conditioning. Always start below threshold and make it fun. If at anytime, the dog gets upset, then you have moved too fast and the exercise will be counter productive.

To start below threshold, the first visitor will be the roommate. Have your roommate pretend to be a visitor and go through your routine – like “go get your toy.” Treat (really really good treats like baked chicken) the dog or have the roommate give the dog a sit and treat the dog. Always provide some type of alternate behavior so the dog won’t feel like she has to resort to barking and growling.

Then go through this with each roommate

After this works well with the roommates, try a calm friend whom the dog is comfortable with. Stay below threshold and keep doing it until the dog is happy. This could take minutes, days, weeks.

Then with a friend who is a little less known but who isn’t upsetting. Once you move to unknown people, for safety’s sake, you as the pet parent should be giving the treat instead of having the guests do it.

More info in References below on how to continue to do this.

If you have guests who are unwilling to help you with this, don’t force them into it. Ask politely, if they don’t want to help, then put the dog away. If they refuse to follow your instructions then put the dog away or ask them to leave.

Other People
Don’t allow anyone to:
Pet your dog on the head
Touch your dog when she isn’t ready to be touched
Pet your dog roughly
Wrestle with your dog
Encourage jumping up by patting their chest, etc..

Don’t allow anyone to reward undesirable behaviors like jumping up, barking, etc..

Positive Reinforcement Works
Some people might tell you that positive reinforcement doesn’t work.

Behaviorist and author Jean Donaldson says that people can’t execute a method incorrectly then blame the method. Positive Reinforcement when executed correctly does work. Negative reinforcement might work with some dogs but:
1. It hurts your relationship with your dog
2. It doesn’t always work and in many cases it will make your dog much much worse.

You don’t have to take my word for it. Just read the works of people who have studied animal behavior, who have advanced degrees in animal behavior, who do seminars all over the world. Remember that TV is for entertainment. Books are for education.
Everything isn’t about dominance

Behaviorist and author Ian Dunbar says that suppressing a growl is like removing a ticker from a time bomb. So “correcting” your dog when she barks or growls just teaches her to not give a warning next time. And she could bite without warning

Exercise, Exercise, Exercise
Are you working on ways to keep your dog calm yet stimulated and exercised? Does she go on long walks every day? Get training lessons? Do you reward calm behaviors through out the day?

Calming Remedies
Check with your vet on using some things that might help your dog be more relaxed
Bach Flower essences
Valerian Root
Dog Appeasing Pheromone
These may or may not be good for puppies.

Something to consider
This shouldn’t be an issue, but it is. Many people are more leary of pitties than other breeds. A chihuahua growling or nipping might be funny, but a pittie doing the same thing is scary to many people. Scary enough that your dog could be reported as vicious. Then you are stuck with legal bills trying to defend your dog. Worse case scenario, you don’t want Animal Control seizing your dog.
Keep her safe. Don’t let her get herself into trouble.

Just in case something does happen, make sure you have shot records on hand and easy to find at all times.

Is this the best environment?
If your dog is a bit nervous, Is a place that has lots of people in and out really a good place for her to live? If things get bad for the dog, are you able to move out?

Professional Help
Professional help is always a good thing. Just be aware that anyone can legally call him/herself a trainer. Be sure to interview the trainer about his/her methods. Anyone who talks about “correcting” the dog after she starts barking should NOT be used. Anyone who talks about using the leash for “control” should not be used. I’m not saying the dog shouldn’t be on leash because she should, but she should NOT be yanked.

Speaking of the leash, make sure the dog can’t slip her collar. A properly fitted martingale collar would be safer than a buckle collar. A professional can help you with this.


Barking: The Sound of a Language by Turid Rugaas. Start here. It’s a small book and can be read in one setting

Patricia McConnell – “The Other End of the Leash” – has some good info on door greetings and lots of other great info. Read this one next.

Patricia McConnell – How to be the Leader of the Pack and Have your Dog Love you for it.

Patricia McConnel – Family Friendly Dog Training

Patricia McConnel – Cautious Canine

Ali Brown – Scardey Dog – this has info on dogs who are scared of other dogs but the principles can be applied

Leadership and Dominance: http://www.stubbypuddin.com/2011/02/…ars-ago-i.html

Benevolent Leadership: http://www.stubbypuddin.com/2011/02/…eadership.html

Managing Behaviors: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=el1h90bq998

How do I get my dog to like other dogs: This is for dogs but it has good info on counter conditioning and desensitization. Just replace “dogs” with people. http://www.stubbypuddin.com/2011/04/…ther-dogs.html

Kitchen nightmares – More good info on CC&D: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-CCJxF-9U4

Teach your dog to sit: A hands off – non aversive way to teach your dog to sit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faqSuJFuxGg

Reward Calm Behaviors: http://www.youtube.com/peteducation#p/u/12/EIvWIyVZoGM

Things Humans Inadvertently teach their pets: http://www.youtube.com/peteducation#p/u/10/EQpP02nTVeg

Stopping Unwanted behavior before it starts: http://www.youtube.com/peteducation#p/u/9/YoHTir_uK1o

Inside looking out: http://kpk9listen.blogspot.com/2010/…oking-out.html

How to treat your best friend

There is absolutely no need for you to hurt or scare your best friend. Anyone who says positive reinforcment doesn’t work, probably is not implementing it correctly.

Please please do not hold the snout closed, don’t squeeze the lips, don’t hold the tongue. This does not teach soft mouth nor “no bite” it might teach the dog to be afraid of your hands.  It could also make yoru dog hand shy with everyone.   They you might wind up with a fearful adult dog.  And fearful adult dogs can bite when approached to quickly or grabbed at by a stranger.

Please don’t listen to any advice that is just a repeat of television shows.  TV is for entertainment and ratings – not education.  So please do not listen to advice about alpha rolling, dominance, pack leader, showing who’s boss etc..

There is  a reason why the screen on those TV shows flashes “Do not try this at home” – because the techniques are extremely unsafe.

Please absolutely no alpha rolling, leash yanking, hanings, no leash corrections (same as yanking, jerking).  There are better ways to treat your best friend.  Please no shock collars

If someone says it doesn’t hurt, it probably does: http://blog.mysanantonio.com/latrenda/2011/05/when-someone-says-its-doesnt-hurt-it-probably-does/

Please don’t be mean to your dog by rubbing his nose is his potty.

Additionally, there is absolutely no reason to yell or scare the dog. This causes reverse housetraining.

  This is just cruel.  Just let the dog out at least every hour and praise highly when he goes potty.

More info below

Good Cop Bad Cop

I was walking one of my dogs on a nature trail and we came upon another dog and his humans coming towards us from the opposite direction.  

The dog was a little reactive so the pet parents (and man and a lady – maybe spouses, I don’t know), pulled the dog over to the side.

The lady rubbed the dog and talked soothingly to him and let him know everything was going to be alright. At the same time,  the man talk very sternly, admonishing the dog for reacting.

I thought to myself: “that must be one confused dog!”

Dogs who live with more than one human caretaker are quite lucky in a lot of ways, but when the human caretakers aren’t on the same page when it comes to training, the dogs’ training, even their mental well-being can suffer.

Author, Patricia McConnell, discusses this issue in her book Family Dog Training.

All caretakers must discuss what words, what techniques will be used, then all must agree to be consistent.  If Mom tells the dog “down” when she wants the dog off the couch and Dad tells the dog “down” when he wants the dog to stop jumping and daughter says “down” when she wants the dog to lay down, the dog isn’t going to know what down means.

While family members are working on being consistent, try not to be mad at the family dog for not complying with requests.  The dog isn’t being defiant or stubborn, or “dominant.” The dog simply doesn’t understand what you want.

if you want a calmer dog, practcie better time management

Matt-Matt’s appointment was at 4:30. I checked my watch: 2:00 PM. Plenty of time to get there. I sat down to read and before I knew it, it was 4:00 PM. Only 30 minutes to load the fur baby into the car and get to the vet.
When Matt-Matt saw the leash and harness, in typical Matt-Matt style, he barked and bouced around.
What to do. I could wait for him to calm down but then I’d be late for my vet appointment.
Well, I can’t inconvenience my vet because of my poor time management skills.
I threw a leash on Matt-Matt in between bounces and we get to our appointment on time.
I made it to the vet on time, but I also rewarded Matt-Matt’s excited behavior. If I needed to leave the house at 4:00 PM, and I knew I had a hyper dog, I should have started picking up his leash no later than 3:00 PM.
If you want a calmer dog, practive never rewarding her for excited behavior.
If your dog jumps on you. Look up, say nothing. Pet her when all 4 feet are on the ground.
If you rdog spins around in circles when you pick up the leash, put the leash back down, sit down and read until your dog calms down. If you get back up and your dog spins again, then sit back down. This might take a while at first, but soon you dog will learn that he doesn’t go for a walk until he is calm.
See more on rewarding desireable behaviors in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIvWIyVZoGM