Snow Angel

Snow Angel

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tuesday Talk: Positive Reinforcent Training Vs. Alpha (Dominance) Dog Training


 Hey furiends! The topic of today's Tuesday is Positive Reinforcent Training vs. Alpha (Dominance) Dog training.  Aka:  Victoria Stillwell from "It's Me or the Dog" vs. Cesar Millan from "Dog Whisperer." 


Alpha Training, also known as dominance training, is based on a study of wolves.  The idea of Alpha training is to establish a "pack order" within your household, with yourself (the human) as the pack leader.  Alpha trainers believe the most important part of leading the pack is attitude.  The attitude is usually referred to as 'calm and confident.'  The dog will then be worked into a submissive state, where the mind is capable of doing what the human is asking the dog to do. 

Positive Reinforcement Training is shown in detail on Victoria's show "It's Me or the Dog," featured on Animal Planet.  Positive Reinforcement Training is about rewarding your dog for correct action, rather than punishing your dog for incorrect action.  With this kind of training, you need to find something that motivates your dog.  Whether it's treats, affection, or his/her favorite toy. 

They both sound good, you say?  Many dog enthusiasts would say otherwise. 
Many dog enthusiasts in the United States are upset at the fact that "Dog Whisperer," a television series shown on the Nat. Geo Wild channel, is gaining viewers in exponential magnitude. WHY? Many trainers feel that Cesar Millan's approach to training is detrimental to the progress humans have made in training their canine companions.   The overall technique used by trainers today is positive reinforcement training.  Many animal enthusiasts feel that Cesar's method of Alpha training can lead the dog to be punished and act aggressively toward their human.  Most critics argue that Cesar's show makes the viewer feel the dog can be fixed in a matter of minutes, when in real life, it takes multiple days of work to fix a dog's bad behavior.  Some say that dogs are not wolves.  They say that the domestic dog is an entire animal apart from the wolf, and wolves do things domestic dogs don't, and domestic dogs do things that wolves don't.  Therefore, the study on wolves has been thrown out as a way to manage and train the domestic dog. 

This is an interesting and controversial topic in the dog world today.  Mom liked to watch both shows and idolizes both trainers.  She uses the positive reinforcement method herself, but has met many trainers that are very successful with the Alpha training.  Mom even had to use alpha training on my once because she tried and tried with the positive reinforcement idea with my food aggression, but it just didn't work.  She tried so many different approaches, but none of them resulted in less growling or snarling.  The first time I was flipped on my back was quite startling.  She had to do it a couple of times, but I did stop growling at her.  Now she uses the positive reinforcement to keep me from growling, but I did have to get shook up a little bit to understand that mom meant business. 

What about you furiends?  What are your likes and dislikes about these two training methods?  Do we have any furiends that view both shows, like I do?  Can't wait to hear your thoughts today!

22 comments:

  1. You know, I share the same view about home improvement shows - you can't remodel the bathroom in 30 minutes, just like you can't train the dog in a couple of days. I just try to be the pack leader when we are going in and out of the house, I try to go in first or go out first and make her follow. Otherwise, I just give her treats like crazy when she does something good!

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  2. Yhep. My mom does that go in and out of the house thing first too! ...and the treats, of course. Thanks for the input, Finn.

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  3. I just do what ever works for Freddie and Gloria at the time, and it's usually rewarding them for doing good!

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  4. When I was little Beth took me to Minneapolis to a training center. It was all POSITIVE TRAINING! It was awesome....worked great!

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  5. I mix and match with both. Weirdly my little boy Dexter finds the Victoria Stillwell way of training just too exciting and he just gets giddy trying to snatch treats. And doesn't learn a thing. My black lab would walk away from Caesar and let him know she was bored she likes high praise and treats. So my dogs actually go to different dog schools! One is reward based training only, the other is a bit stricter and no food treats are used. And I have tried them both at both schools. I think a good balance of both schools of thought works for me!

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  6. MOM tries to use a liitle of both, I guess. Reward method seems to have worked better for me.
    Blessing,
    Goose

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  7. I use positive reinforcement exclusively. I do NOT agree at all with the Dog Whisperer, I think his ways are outdated, uneducated and abusive. I truly don't mean to offend, but my view is I want my dog to listen to me because she wants too, and not out of fear. That just breeds mistrust and anxiety, and I don't need have or want that kind of relationship with my Nola.
    I do not ignore bad behavior, I correct it in a firm no touch not yell way. Nola has been trained positively and she is happy, healthy and listens. Great post!
    Dachshund Nola's Mommy

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  8. I read your post earlier and I still can't figure out what to put down. For all technical purposes I'd say I use positive reinforcement. Although I believe that carries a very broad range of ideas, so maybe that is why I don't think of using one theory or the other. I have used dominant theories with my first puppy, (didn't know anything else at time), but I did refer to them several times when I was dealing with Brut my dog aggressive dog. And they were effective at that time. From there I was able to build to using a more effective and positive approach that now prevents the fights before they start. I have no doubt it was the use of the dominant technique that lead me to the other and I don't think the positive approach would have worked without using the other first in order to gain the success that we have in dealing with Brut's aggressions.

    I believe it is finding whatever works for you and your dog that makes your relationship better and the continuing the evolution in finding what works. Just as people change, dogs change, and so we learn to change together, hopefully for the better. I don't think there is any one-size-fits-all. Think of how boring that would be. :)

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  9. Zoe is such a submissive dog that positive training is the only thing that works for her. Otherwise she cowers away and nothing gets accomplished. I really do think it depends on the dog as to which training is best.

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  10. I am glad you tackled this topic. I have heard of trainer critiquing Cesar's work. But the fact is, most of the dogs who are showed in Cesar's "Dog Whisperer" have already been deemed hopeless by trainers themselves.

    I saw Stillwell's book, I didn't know she was a good trainer. I should've bought it. Darn.

    Still, as for my stand on the controversy, I find Cesar's ways acceptable. If people knew how misbehaved dogs are treated in our country, Cesar's way would definitely be seen as gentle.

    For behavioral issues such as aggressiveness, I am wondering how giving the dog treats can help this situation.

    So in lieu to what I said, I stand in between. It solely depends what works best for the dogs.

    I've done both on my dogs. Treats for tricks and if they did well e.g. potty training and the Alpha way when it comes to correction e.g. excessive barking and aggressiveness.

    Huggies and Cheese,

    Haopee

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  11. SHE's the alpha; but we mostly get positive reinforcement. It works for us. Once when Roxy was growling, she had to go into her crate and was ignored. She doesn't do that anymore.

    Mostly, SHE uses clapping loudly when we do something wrong. We hate to be clapped at or a low, growly voice to show disapproval.

    XXXOOO Daisy, Bella & Roxy

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  12. We use both. I think the best trainers figure out what a particular dog needs and adjusts the training to the dog. The key when training is to be consistent and fair (do not correct for something the dog doesn't know or in frustration).

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  13. I guess I am a blend depending on what is needed. All our first dogs went through dog school without any dog treats. That was just the way it was done. I never, ever felt our dogs were in fear of us in any way but then I wasn't cruel or mean and they were easy trainers. Then when the positive training with treats came alone with dog school, it seemed like the treats were the focus and the training was slowed down incredibly. I went through a 8 week course where when we were done our Heidi did long sits, long downs with out a leash on as well...all the dogs in the school class succeeded without anyone being mean or aggressive. With the programs now, we have 7 weeks where the dogs are learning just basic training and then move up the ladder just like kids in school so that I think many people only train their dogs to a certain point and then stop long before they are really trained. The cost preempts continued schooling.

    I would never want to threaten my dogs. I just don't want to constantly use treats to get them to heel, come, down or etc. forever.

    Just like children, we don't give them toys or treats for what they need to learn. A child will figure this out and I think our doggies are just as smart.

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  14. I'm a big fan of pawsitive reinforcement. I'm a sweet little dog and I have excellent manners :)

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  15. Wow! Such great feedback from everyone! I am so glad to hear all of the opinions. Check in for next Tuesday's Talk.

    Kootenai

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  16. Hi Kootenai,

    Well, I'm the pawfect pup so I just get lots of treats!!

    Just kidding, I have to confess sometimes I just don't want to listen!!

    Mum is very patient with me, but I do know when I've pushed her too far, usually she'll ignore me, I don't like that.....doh!!

    Great topic and great comments :)

    Have fun,

    Your pal Snoopy :)

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  17. For me I use a bit of both, but try to use positive reinforcement most. It just doesn't work with certain things, like aggression. Twiggy went through some aggression stuff in her early years and the only way I could get through to her was with dominance. She still has to be kept in check and does not do well with other alpha type dogs. It's always amazing to me that I have to constantly remind her that she is NOT the boss! On the other hand, Onyx (our Pit Bull mix) is a complete pleaser dog and positive reinforcement works wonders with him! Glad you brought the topic up!

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  18. I use both. A "calm and confident" attitude goes a long way but I lean towards rewarding positive behavior. There are some times that you just have to put your foot down though and let them know that what they are doing is absolutely not ok.

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  19. My mom doesn't watch either of the shows (thank goodness). I'm pretty much perfect without training (though she would tend to disagree)... I must make sure she doesn't see this. The last thing I want is her to flip me whenever I bark and lunge at another dog on our walk. Now where can I hide this computer.... Gracie.

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  20. I'm glad I'm not the only one to who wrote a long post. ^_^

    Huggies and Cheese,

    Haopee

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  21. Well...you know how it works for me. LOVE LOVE LOVE. Mom is the Alpha. Great (brave) post. You go Girl!

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  22. My owners don`t do either. Hehe.

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