Training Your Dog Humanely: Part One

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Welcome the Dog to the Human World

Have you ever watched The Dog Whisperer and thought, ‘Wow, that guy is amazing! What a great way to train a dog!” I know I have many times. Cesar Milan teaches one basic principle about dogs – a dog is a pack animal by instinct. According to Cesar, your job is to become the pack leader, a dominant Alpha male/female with ‘balance’. I guess by ‘balance’ he means you should treat the animal fairly, as they would expect to be treated in a wild pack. He gets very good and fast results with this method. I won’t say it’s a bad method, but it’s not the way I choose to train my dogs and here’s why.

There’s one thing very wrong with the ‘you’re the pack leader’ concept – it assumes the dog inhabits a dog’s world, and for you to control it, you must behave as a dog would, the Alpha male or female of the pack. For the majority of dogs who are family pets this means the owner will treat the animal as though it had only instinctual processes going on in its head, no rational thought processes. To refute that thinking go and watch these two short videos of Lucy’s behavior: Lucy Remembers Her Ball and Lucy and The Vacuum Cleaner (links appear at bottom). A dog does not inhabit a dog’s world unless it’s in a pack of dogs, roaming the wilderness like a wolf, bringing down prey and sharing its kill. This is not your dog. Your dog wouldn’t chase its supper if it went hungry for a week! It would no more kill a raccoon and rip its flesh apart than would your six year old child! If you do have such an animal it’s a sure bet that it’s a dangerous dog, one that causes people in your neighborhood to cross the street to avoid.

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