Friday, July 29, 2011

Who's fear is it really?

I had a dream about dog training last night that really clarified for me the journey I have taken these last three years from punishment/correction based training to natural dog training. This dream illuminated the basics of why people need to use harsh, or overly controlling methods in training a dog. The entire dream was about the journey the Brynda and I have taken these last three weeks due to the homework from Therapy Dog Class..
There are two major schools of dog training and behavior modification in existence today. There is the school of "the dog must be controlled" and the school of "show the dog how to live in a human world".
I bet you thought I'd say there is the school of positive punishment / negative reinforcement and the school of positive reinforcement / negative punishment. The truth is that those two schools are basically identical. Both those philosophies lean towards control of the dog. Whether you are using an e-collar or a clicker, the goal is control. One way is control at any cost, the other is control through micro management. Both come from the fear that the dog, when not controlled, will try to dominate us or others. The fear is the fear that since dogs come from wild animals that their basic nature is one of aggression and eat everything before it eats you.
Fear is something that you can manage, control and in some cases remove entirely. Some fears serve a useful purpose, for instance the fear of fire stops us from lighting tinder in a dry forest. One of the most prevalent fears people have is that of losing control. This is the fear that if you don't manage to control the outcome of future events, something terrible will happen.
The fear of losing control is a demand for certainty in a world that is always tentative and uncertain. It is precisely this unrealistic demand that creates the fear. You think that you must accurately predict and manage the future.. People with a fear of losing control demand perfection and perfect control of everything and everyone. What they are saying is, “If I could control these people, I could guarantee the results.” The truth is that control is an illusion, especially if you’re talking about the life or lives of others, control is an illusion; influence is what matters.
Whether it’s with your kids, your employees, your peers, or even your pets, the more you seek to exert control the less you’ll actually have. Someone who must have control will do whatever he or she can to keep others from changing anything. The more you seek to contain others, the less successful you’ll be. The more you seek to control others, the more your attitudes will tend towards "the end justifies the means". Those "means" can be on either end of the spectrum - violence, intimidation and punishment or micro management of every aspect of someone's life or some activity.
Those who understand that control is not really theirs to have, but seek rather to shape the course of events through influence, find themselves far more successful at accomplishing their objectives, and far less negatively affected when they don’t.
This understand of the motives and emotions behind dog training methodology, is what I realized in the middle of this dream. My journey with Brynda these last three weeks, has been one of mutual understanding and respect built through communication. All from a simple exercise during a walk. I didn't have to control her, correct her, guide her, lure her or coax her. All I had to do was communicate with her, talk to her, listen to her and learn who she is. The result this morning while she was being the demo dog for Righteous Recalls was awesome. She was totally focused on me, waiting for my next request, totally willing to work for the entire hour. She only once tried to mooch treats from the others when normally she would be ignoring me and trying to get as many of all the treats available as she could.
Think about your motives and emotions when you are dealing with your dog, and even with your life. Is your method of handling others, of dealing with future events, based on fear or communication.

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