Tuesday, June 17, 2014


"Our children spend their days being passively instructed, and made to sit still and take tests—often against their will. We call this imprisonment schooling, yet wonder why kids become bored and misbehave. Even outside of school children today seldom play and explore without adult supervision, and are afforded few opportunities to control their own lives. The result: anxious, unfocused children who see schooling—and life—as a series of hoops to struggle through."

"...free play is the primary means by which children learn to control their lives, solve problems, get along with peers, and become emotionally resilient. This capacity to learn through play evolved long ago, in hunter-gatherer bands where children acquired the skills of the culture through their own initiatives. And these instincts still operate remarkably well today, as studies at alternative, democratically administered schools show. When children are in charge of their own education, they learn better—and at lower cost than the traditional model of coercive schooling."

This is the model that I and the trainers and apprentices at Seize The Leash are following. That the lack of play, the lack of enrichment, creates a dog with no joy in life and no emotional attachment to their humans. That those methods that force and compel the dog to perform based on avoidance, where the joy of life is completely separate from any "schooling", and even those activities that should be joyful are still constrained with the need to avoid, create a ghost of a dog with no will, no self control and very little confidence.

We strive to give a dog many opportunities to control their own destinies and their everyday lives based on rules and boundaries that must be in place for safety and the needs of their living companions. Every lesson our dogs learn is based on choice; their choice to do or not to do, to seek reinforcement and enrichment by way of learning the rules, learning the jobs and behaviors we consider important for living in our world.

We do not seek errorless learning, but try hard to avoid creating frustration and shutdown behaviors in the dogs we teach and live with. We strive to create joy in living, joy in being with us, and joy in their own ability to think, to do, to play, to learn and to work.

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