Monday, 17 November 2014

A Blog for the Anonymous Commenter/s (hi there, I see you there)

So someone recently left some comments on a fairly old entry, I don't know if they read much of this blog or just that entry but hey ho, I'd like to address some of their criticisms, cos thats what I do.

First of all, any entry by me that is entitled a 'a review of' and then a TV show or book - that will be my opinion of the TV show or book. It will therefore be biased to some extent, because my opinion may well not be the same as your opinion.

For reviews of Cesar Milan shows, yes I am tearing it down,yes I am biased, yes that is clearly evident if you read the rest of this blog (I have helpfully tagged Cesar Milan in entries about him so they are easier for you to find).

In posts that are not reviews I do discuss not just what is wrong with what he does, but why it is wrong, and what the correct approach would be. I don't think there is the room for that within reviews, particularly as those reviews tend to be aimed at like minded trainers/behaviourists who didn't really want to watch the show itself.

But anyway - so back to the comments.

"keep sayin shit about "good behaviorists" but never cite any studies"
why don't you give us some empirical evidence for your bullfuckery instead of forcing us to take your word for it"

Frankly... you do not seem to be any professionnal either. Just a random amateur like me"

How about reading/watching the following:

Raymond & Lorna Coppinger - Mexico City Dump Dogs, also Raymond Coppingers observations of the dogs of Pemba.

These guys reveal that dogs are not pack animals!

Dr P. McConnell has a wealth of information in her books and online.

Here particularly she discusses the 'dominance myth' - dogs do not seek to dominate us, and if we seek to dominate them, we just cause problems.

Also on that topic I'd recommend John Bradshaw's 'In Defence of Dogs'  and the somewhat briefer work 'Dominance, Fact or Fiction' by Barry Eaton.

If you want some long term, tried and tested, been doing it for decades kinda stuff, check out

Dr Ian Dunbar has been teaching and training with positive reinforcement for over 35 years, he is also a vet and a behaviourist (with the PhD's to prove it).

If you are still in doubt that punishment based training is damaging to dogs and their relationship with humans, what about this article by Stanley Coren

If you haven't the desire to read through that, the relevant study is by Meghan Herron, School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. I recommend you do though, this isn't an article by just anyone, Stanley Coren is a well respected scientist and pscyhologist who has written a lot of books on dogs, the way they think and how we relate to them etc.

Anyway, this study backs up the findings in human and child psychology, that the use of punishment particularly (but not limited to) physical punishment, increases the likelyhood of aggressive behaviour.

And before you say 'ah but that doesn't say that positive reinforcement is better'.. well here, have an other from Psychology Today..

Ok so, this article references a study done on children, but children and dogs are a very good comparison, particularly young children. Also, there are not nearly so many studies done on dogs, purely because up until relatively recently, no one saw much value in financing such studies.

That is now changing and thats great news - which leads me on to tell you about SPARCS - Society for the Promotion of Applied Research in Canine Science  -

SPARCS have, at the time of writing this, now run two conferences, both spanning three days, with seminars/lectures by the likes of Coppinger, Udell, Wynne, Gadbois, McConnell, Hecht, and many, many more.

These guys are pushing for more and more research to be done, to fill in the gaps that we have, but its worth pointing out, the gaps we have are generally NOT the areas most 'average joe's are discussing - the old 'is Cesar abusive and do his methods cause problems' type questions are old news, theres no doubt there, its not a mystery Yes they are, yes they do, end of.

These guys are researching how canids are using their olfactory senses, how wolves use agonistic and affiliative behaviours, why dogs relate to us so well when other canids do not...

Its interesting stuff and their yearly SPARCS conference can be viewed live and free via online streaming, so its very accessible!

There is quite a lot of useful and interesting information out there, but you do have to go and look for it, its really not going to jump up and bite you in the ass, and most of it is sadly nowhere near as exciting as watching someone on tv appear to work magic.

As for me, am I a professional - I guess that depends on your definition of professional!

I'd say I am, based on the fact that this is how I earn my living, that I blog on the subject of dogs and training in a number of other places, by invitation ( sporadically, for I am a lazy creature), that I spend a not inconsiderable amount of money each year on attending training courses, conferences/seminars and lectures, and I think quite crucially, that people seek me out for my assistance and advice.

Personally my definition of a professional, is someone who not only knows a lot about their subject matter, but is always learning, and knows when (and to whom) to refer a client on when they don't have the answer - because no one has all the answers.

Yours may be entirely different!

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