Classical or forced conditioning has long been used to train dogs. In the past two decades many dog training professionals have criticized Pavlov’s theory as out dated and inhumane. Ivan Pavlov was a Russian in the 1920's and 1930's who experimented with respondent conditioning. Respondent conditioning is a learning process, in which an innate response to a potent stimulus comes to be elicited in response to a previously neutral stimulus; this is achieved by repeated pairings of the neutral stimulus with the potent stimulus. Many critics say a dog experiencing a repeated negative response will achieve a negative result. I think this is stating the obvious. Any species that gets a negative response backed with a neutral response will eventually become less willing to work.
The desire to work in a happy manner comes from love and interaction through play with dogs. Pavlovian theory was never meant to be a sophisticated dog behavior training method. However, using all methods of forced training is not a negative. Dogs do use forced training methods to train each other. This is seen in any group of dogs, wild or domesticated. We cannot criticize dogs for communicating like dogs. Nature made the animals long before the know-it-all critics told dogs what humane treatment is by definition.
Dogs correct one another in specific locations of the body. Depending on the location of the bite, strength of bite or push to bump the dog off balance, the correction can be a different message. Corrections can be threats or a warning. Different levels of fear exist in all species. Some levels of fear are good and push all species to learn or survive.
Only the delusional dog handlers believe life is a controlled, pain free and fear free environment. Dogs, when correcting each other, make a specific controlled bite or push to communicate. Each level of force is like an adjective describing the importance of the correction. Dogs play bite and push with high levels of force. The force depends on the relationship of the two dogs or the dog and handler. Confidence in hard play is from a good understanding of the two dogs or handler knowing each other’s tolerance levels. Similar to human contact sports rules which involve controlled force (e.g. soccer, football), this confidence and understanding are generated from experience playing the game.
Classical/forced conditioning can create a lifeless dog that is obedient because the correction is used incorrectly, in a point of contact on the dog’s body that is not used for correction, but a direct threat. The body language of the dog or handler, in combination with level of force, can make a correction become a threat with intent to create severe harm to the animal. Knowing what is a normal challenge for leadership or respect for personal space comes with experience. Mature, organized dog packs learn each personality of the other dogs and what is acceptable behavior. Dog handlers must learn the body language, force of correction, personality of the dog and point of correction to be a good handler.
Having a dog respond to a correction, followed by a neutral response, is not a good training method. Ivan Pavlov was only proving that dogs can be conditioned to a bell at feeding time and salivate. This is one example of many. A specific dog (innate response) correction using body language, location of correction, intensity of the bite/push or vocal tone, with an understanding of the dog’s personality, must be followed by positive reinforcement, with no delay in the positive response. The positive response must be in a method innate to the dog, such as voice tone, touching and body language. When the dog has a positive response to an immediate positive behavior, such as body language, voice or physical movement, the personality of the dog is not suppressed or damaged, and will not reduce the dogs motivation to work. Positive reinforcement must be equal or greater than the corrections. The ratio can be 1/1 or 7/1. Positive reinforcement should always be greater or equal to the correction. The higher the positive ratio to the correction the better result. Corrections are not a negative; a correction to an unwanted behavior, when combined with a positive reinforcement without delay, will result in a positive result.
Dog communication is not hit and miss conditioning, but an innate teaching method. The dog must have a direct relationship with the handler. The innate reaction and response on the part of the dog, must be duplicated by the handler as dogs understand, not by human logic. When a shock collar, food/treat, spray bottle or noise is used for a positive or negative reinforcement, the dog is responding to something other than the handler. This is not innate in dogs and will separate the dog from a direct communication with the handler. This is the exact opposite of what you want to achieve for maximum safety and reliability for your dog.
If you interview a dog trainer and ask what they do when a dog jumps on them, and the trainer says “turn their back” and “ignore the dog”, do not work with this trainer. The
body language of turning your back is being subservient and allowing the dog to take control. If your dog trainer says their training method used is all positive reinforcement, do not work with the trainer. Strong minded, stubborn dogs will not cooperate with you because you spoil the dog, or give the dog a time-out in a crate. Dogs don’t understand avoidance as a learning exercise. The problem will still exist when the dog is out of the crate.
If your trainer believes domestic dogs do not form a pack. Walk away. Domestic dogs are seen in packs when raised together and the behavior is very much like their canine ancestor wild dog. When a dog trainer believes that they have the new modern method of dog training, do not work with the trainer. Nature is not out dated. Scientific studies have proven that very little DNA, genetic code, has changed in the past 100 million years. Your dog has the instinct to hunt a rabbit, squirrel, lizard or large deer. Your dog does not have the enzyme to digest cellulose, the prime fiber in vegetables. Your dog has all sharp teeth without molars to chew vegetables. The domestic dog does not have a long intestinal track like an omnivore or vegetarian to break down vegetables. Dogs have a short intestine. Your dogs genetics are not adapting and changing because you force your dog to eat kibble. Yes, your dog is a carnivore.
If your dog trainer says the words “alpha” or “dominant” are more a pop-culture and are outdated, debunked theory, do not work with the trainer. Watch any animal nature show and observe the fights over food, mate and shelter. Nature is not kind among same species when competition is involved. Humans also have “alpha”. Tell the judge or police what to do and argue. See the result of alpha in our society when reactions become results. Companies have leaders or they become failures. Sports teams have coaches and team captains. Alpha and dominance is a part of every-day life.
If your dog trainer says your dog cannot become non-aggressive, walk away. Millions of dogs are killed at shelters because dog trainers are not experienced or educated correctly to solve aggression. Dogs can change to become safe with the correct owner. Most vocational schools and colleges have no idea how to educate a trainer on how to fix aggression in dogs. Dog certifications from well known groups are an opinion and nothing more.
If you ask your dog trainer to take their personal dog off leash and command the dog to walk at their side, perform commands close and at a far distance, with other dogs and animals as a distraction, without food manipulation or an E-collar (Shock collar) and they are able to succeed in these tasks, then hire that trainer. It is important the dog is displaying a willingness to work with enthusiasm and not intimidation.
KTLA5 David Utter demonstartes how to control a strong dog. Dog Training Santa Ana California