Just like a chess player they learn patterns and predict outcomes. So next time you see someone assuming the drill sargeant role with reasonable success, think about how all of a sudden these usually inconsistent handlers become predictable in the current context. We are all just trying to win the best way we know how and for dogs predicting outcomes is their world. Perhaps you've heard someone say, “My dog knows when he's at 'school'....he's so smart, he turn's it on when he's at training.”
For those wondering about the 'military alpha pack leader' approach which has been heavily spruiked by some non-scientific trainers. Why does this appear so "effective"? Besides the obvious, you know, the creation of a canine devoid of spark, a subordinate and a shadow of the former dog. Handlers assuming this role can however in some cases experience a surge in confidence,
Power and control though are two words that can conjure a negative connotation, perhaps a result of what some have chosen to do with them, and yet the opposite; out of control & powerless, I think we can all agree are terrifying prospects.
To control ones environment and 'direction' is a healthy mental ingredient. In my opinion it's no coincidence that many dogs with behavioural problems are symptomatic of a 'bigger picture' problem, and as frequently demonstrated can suffer from a lack of empowerment, confidence, and control. I believe effective dog training is often about using our human intelligence to in some respects, convince the dog into believing that it is really in control, yet in reality,
Good animal husbandry should truly create a win-win kind of situation. The same can be said when it comes to many behavioural modification therapies. Often these too are about helping the dog see where an advantage lies, helping the dog see how it can obtain control and empowerment in a particular situation, as we progressively apply counter conditioning and desensitisation protocols.
So although some may lead you to believe that you need to be a ruthless dictator through compulsive control or being the 'alpa pack leader,' that barks orders! Forget this, instead set a stage or a foundation, a team if you will, one built on motivation through emotion. A team in which both sides love the game, are empowered by it, and understand that a loss only signifies the requirement of trying harder to win... and what does winning equal....control.
The idea that a formula one driver could be hurtling around the race track at break-neck speed in an absolutely terrified emotional state seems preposterous to consider right? However, the difference between exhilaration and panic can be all but one seat away. Put that driver in the passenger seat and the emotional dynamic can change dramatically. Control or the lack of it can be the difference between two psychological extremes.
Control...Does your dog get it?
By Gordon Gill
12th Aug 2017