Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Dog Whisperer

Good dog show or bad dog show?

Cesar does seem to have a way with dogs and does appear to achieve good results in a sometimes amazing amount of time. He has helped numerous dog owners with serious issues. In many cases, the owners do need to expect their dog to obey them and he will show common sense dog training methods such as being in control of starting and ending games.

Here's what I am not as sure about.

Cesar relies heavily on the dominance theory of dogs. It seems like in every single case shown on his show, the owners are not dominant over the dog. How can this explain every single case he encounters?

He recently said separation anxiety was caused by the lack of a human being dominant over the dog because the pack leader is not used to the subordinate dogs leaving. I don't believe this is the cause of separation anxiety.

I am not sure that your dog being ahead of you on leash always mean your dog is dominant over you. Is this based on scientific observations of dog packs? If they get excited about something, rank is probably the last thing on their minds.

How much does your dog see you as another dog and how much do they see us as a separate species? I am not sure.

If you look at how he retrains dogs, he uses corrections (aversives). Aversives work. Many of us believe that the use of positives is better. In many cases what he is calling being dominant and using calm, assertive energy may really be the just the use of aversive conditioning.

His theory of calm, assertive energy is interesting. One thing lacking in the strict behaviorist model many positive, clicker training is any insight into the internal states of the dog and the owner. Behaviorism is great for training methods. Perhaps someone will someday be able to combine the strength of behaviorism, a physiological model of the human - dog relationship based on science, and appropriate incorporate of the social (pack) behavior of dogs as it relates to humans.

1 comment:

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