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As you have probably all noticed there has been a debate raging in the world of dog training over the past couple of years. On one side is Cesar Milan and his fans and on the other side is the likes of Dr. Ian Dunbar and Jean Donaldson – dog training gurus in their own right without the celebrity status. The Dog Whispering gang believe you have to assert your dominance to have a successful relationship with your dog while the behaviorists like Dunbar and Donaldson focus on the science behind learning theory and positive reinforcement to achieve great things with dogs. Check out the new spin we have put on this ongoing debate with the press release we issued this week. Let us know what you think about our new approach to bridge the gap between these two camps!
Halifax, Nova Scotia (PRWEB) July 22, 2009 — The rise in popularity of Cesar Milan, National Geographic’s Dog Whisperer, has exposed a rift in society’s canine culture. Milan and his followers believe dog owners must act like dominant pack leaders, but a growing number of modern trainers are protesting Milan’s methods, claiming they lead to an increase in dog aggression. Now a Nova Scotia-based company, the Clicker Leash Co., bridges the gap between the two camps with its flagship invention, the Clicker Leash.
The Clicker Leash first drew international attention when a Los Angeles-based PR firm chose the training system for a Presidential Puppy gift box, presented earlier this year to the Obamas. The product evolved from clicker training, a method frequently used by behaviourists, zoo keepers and professional trainers to train all species of animals. Since its arrival in the marketplace, the training leash has been embraced by experienced clicker trainers but has also made waves in dog whispering circles. “Being dominant means you control access to resources and traditionally this has been achieved with force,” explains company president Adina MacRae. “The Clicker Leash clearly lets dogs know you are the one in control of their resources without getting physical. When you use those resources as rewards, you end up with a well-trained dog without using the scare tactics formerly associated with dominance.”
MacRae and business partner Shannon Spruin drew from their love of dogs to start the Clicker Leash Co. Both women own successful dog walking businesses and MacRae offers in-home canine counselling services. As Milan’s popularity grew, she saw an increase in demand for her services. “Cesar draws attention to the need for dog training but there is a reason for the warning at the beginning of his shows,” says MacRae. “When people try to physically dominate their dogs they run the risk of frightening them and a fearful dog is more likely to bite.”
The Clicker Leash can be found in stores across the country as well as on the company web site http://www.clickerleash.com where free training videos are available.
Our friend across the pond Shelley who has a great blog “Four Paws One Direction” brought a new petition to our attention. COAPE, the Centre for Applied Pet Ethology has created an online petition ‘Say NO! To punitive training, dog whispering and outdated behaviour therapy‘ . In their position statement, COAPE urges dog owners to question trainers who recommend punitive methods and tools. They also warn dog owners to stay away from dog whispering and other discredited theories.
A second petition that came to our attention wants President Obama to ban the use of shock collars on dogs. You can sign it here. The goal is 100,000 signatures so be sure to share the link with all of your dog loving friends who want to Train Humane!
We urge you to sign the petitions and let your voice be heard. Let people know you don’t need to be cruel to get results and have a dog that respects you!
We humans have a diverse set of emotions. They include but are not limited to happiness, sadness, anger, fear and of course guilt. It is common for dog owners to project these same emotions onto their dogs, insisting their four-legged companions are capable of the same feelings. The technical term for this “humanization” of dogs is anthropomorphism. Often, when people experience behavior issues with heir dogs, they will say the dog knew what he was doing was wrong because he looked guilty. These looks of “guilt” include tucked tails, slinking bodies that crouch towards the floor and big whale eyes.
New research out of Barnard College in New York debunks the common belief that dogs experience a sense of guilt because they have done something wrong. With a clever experiment, assistant professor Alexandra Horowitz discovered the “guilty looks” were stemming from the human reaction to what was assumed the dog had done. In her experiment, Harowitz had dog owners leave their pets in a room with a piece of food on a table. The owners told the dogs to leave the food alone before they left the room. Harowitz would then remove the food from the table or allow the dog to eat it. When the dog owners returned to discover the food was gone, Harowitz noted the dogs presented the same “guilty” look regardless of whether they had eaten the food or if it had been removed by the experimenter. She found the greater influence on the degree of the guilty look was the human’s reaction. When the people scolded their pets for being disobedient, it triggered stronger reactions from the dogs.
Our dogs are sensitive beings, often in tune with every discrete movement and facial expression we make. Dating back to experiments with Clever Hans, the counting horse, we have learned that subtle cues give animals all of the information they need to elicit appropriate responses. Our dogs quickly learn that appeasement signals that appear as “guilty looks” usually work to ward off harsh punishments from disgruntled humans. Next time your dog “looks guilty” take a step back and examine what you may be communicating with your body language or behavior to elicit this response from your dog instead of assuming your dog knows it has done something wrong.