Do you think the general public will ever let go of their ideas about pack theory?

(33 Posts)
poachedeggs Fri 01-Feb-13 09:54:39

Feeling totally depressed this morning after something crappy at work.

What else can we do?

A few thoughts. One is that many smaller rescues, generally run by volunteers, STILL espouse this bloody nonsense. I'm struggling at the moment as I discovered inadvertently earlier this week that one of the greyhound rescues I volunteer for has several key people (including the main foster co-ordinator and the behaviour advisors) think dominance is the way to go and ADORE CM. angry Head. Desk. Sigh. So in turn they are advising new adopters etc. and so it continues.

Another is that there are so many dog trainers out there who are still doing well out of it, especially the ex police dog handler types. When I found our current trainer I googled trainers in our area, and was really depressed by the number (with smart, superficially convincing websites) who are still on this path. How are novice dog owners supposed to know this is wrong?

Thirdly, and this is more of an observation than a theory, but I've noticed that nearly all the dominance based trainers are men - CM obviously, but again a lot of the more militaristic types love this stuff. It's hierarchical, macho, alpha male, testosterone fuelled stuff. Overwhelmingly positive trainers are female. My current trainer is a bloke (very positive) and put a pic up recently on his FB page after attending a Gwen Bailey training course - he was the only man, and if you go to so many dog training events, it is overwhelmingly a female thing. Not sure why this is but there is definitely a gender split going on. Obviously some exceptions such as Jan Fennell in the dominance school but certainly a factor.

gymmummy64 Fri 01-Feb-13 19:30:20

Wow thanks D0oing and Spicy for taking the time to answer my questions at such length. Really appreciated. Until I realised I must do some work rather than MN, I was also going to make Redwing's point about being the boss being attractive. I think she's right and that's a big factor.

I read Milan's (first?) book over Christmas as my mum bought it in a jumble sale. A lot of his stuff in the early part of the book didn't seem so different from what I knew of the positive approaches - as Redwing says, calm energy etc - but having read this thread I might re-read the beginning where he describes growing up in Mexico and observing semi-feral dog packs. It's all very convincing but I guess that's the point at which the divergence starts. My memory is that it's very very different from D0oing's description! Be interesting to reread it now with a different perspective.

You explain and sumarise really well D0oing, not sure what course you're doing but you deserve to do really well smile

poachedeggs Fri 01-Feb-13 19:53:05

Scuttle this link gives powerful weight to your argument:

www.dogwelfarecampaign.org/press-statement.php

Poached - I have tried that. I have politely sent links including that one and very politely mentioned the weight of scientific opinion. I can be very polite when necessary. The Chairman of the charity just said v patronisingly "well, we know you have a bee in your bonnet about this dog welfare stuff" and that they didn't want to offend Jan Fennell who at some distant point had donated a book or some equally tenuous link. He also said that their behaviour team liked using a dominance model as they "have experience of it working".

Sadly, when you have an all voluntary organisation there isn't much to be done in that case. All I can do is to review what if any voluntary work I do for them, and put my efforts into charities that do use positive methods.

bumpybecky Sat 02-Feb-13 22:53:21

this has been on my mind quite a bit over the last couple weeks too. Can I ask another question..

Dooin said 'Positive punishment is normally the baddy, it's the addition of something to reduce a behavior'

is positive punishment ever ok? we were given advice to use a bottle with stones in and a pet corrector spray to scare the dog when he tried to play with the cats

so the punishment wasn't physically harming the dog, but was supposed to frighten him into behaving for us hmm

poachedeggs Sun 03-Feb-13 06:07:21

IMO becky no, that's not ok. Aversives like those are difficult to use "correctly" as inappropriate timing may lead the dog to associate the unpleasant stimulus with something other than the cat, for example the owner! Furthermore they heighten stress and anxiety which is counterproductive, and we also know that fear inhibits learning so they are actually ineffective.

In addition they are unnecessary. You can teach a dog to live with cats without any aversives. Or you can install a stairgate grin

SpicyPear Sun 03-Feb-13 08:43:24

I feel using fear to train in as inhumane as a physical punishment. Why would you want to scare your own dog? Plus the points poached makes about it not working very well and having unintended consequences.

gymmummy64 Sun 03-Feb-13 09:00:00

How interesting. We had a very protracted period of getting the dog used to our resident cat starting with weeks of them having to be segregated completely as the dog was obsessed with her and at one point had her in his jaws.

A bottle with stones was recommended, but Gymdog is not great with unexpected noise as it makes him hyper and barky - ie very similar to his behaviour around the cat - so I rejected that. We needed calm, not more chaos so I also rejected splashing water at him etc.

As ever, food was our friend. We progressed very slowly to Gymdog being able to be in the same room as the cat with her out of reach but he was still fixated, drooling, glazed eyes, legs quivering etc. Our big breakthrough happened by accident - I put a bowl of vile delicious smelling cat food in the same room but out of Gymdog's reach and away from the cat. Suddenly having two powerful stimuli in the same room, but in two different places, broke the fixation. Up until this point, so great was the fixation I could tuck a treat under his lip and he would not register it was there. With the fixation broken, he became responsive and I could work with him. I spent boxing day sat between cat and dog alternately feeding them bits of turkey and praising Gymdog for taking turns and eating turkey rather than cat.

So, distraction and positive reinforcement but not because of a conscious choice on my part between two models, but because that's what worked! Which is the best recommendation I guess. The majority of dog owners are unlikely to read up extensively on the different approaches, they just want techniques that work.

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