But What if Your Dog Runs Out Into Traffic?

A traffic light with three colored bulbs: red, yellow, and green. The red light is lit up.

Stop. It’s not safe to proceed.

Anyone who spends any time on FaceBook reading the arguments between trainers who train mainly with positive reinforcement and those who don’t has seen this question. Just lately I have seen three different versions of it:

  1. But what if your dog runs out into traffic? Are you going to save him by throwing cookies at him?
  2. But what if your dog runs out into traffic? You’re going to pull on the leash. That’s negative reinforcement and the same as using a shock collar.
  3. But what if your dog runs out into traffic? If you grab him that could cause stress, and I thought you’re supposed to be 100% stress free?

I’m going to answer these questions. Perhaps it will help others formulate their thoughts in these kinds of discussions.

The traffic question is an interesting meme. The underlying message is, “When push comes to shove, positive reinforcement training is ineffective. It’s dangerous because you have no acceptable way to control your dog. Your dog could die.”

There are further messages:

  • In #1, juxtaposing “cookies” with this life and death situation is both mocking and implies we have no methods of controlling our dogs.
  • In #2, the implication is, that although we can prevent our dogs by pulling the leash, if we do, then we are hypocrites because that causes pressure and that’s aversive. These folks are claiming that the bottom line is that there no way to distinguish between what we do and what shock trainers do.
  • And in #3, the subject is stress. This writer got the idea that we try to completely eliminate stress from our dogs’ lives, and that therefore we would let them risk their lives rather than grab them.

Here are the briefest responses I could come up with to the three versions of the question. I’m also going to describe an actual conversation I had about one of these that turned out all right.

  1. No, throwing cookies at a dog running into traffic would not be an effective way of stopping him. But with “cookies” (or more properly, positive reinforcement of all types) I can do the following: 
    • train him that staying by my side is the best thing ever;
    • use classical conditioning to teach him not to flinch from a collar grab or quick movement from me;
    • train a beautiful recall;
    • teach him a great “leave it,” which often generalizes well; and
    • train him to lie down on cue in all sorts of situations. I can use the “distance down” when coming to me would not be a good solution.

    Also I can use common sense. I don’t know anyone personally who would have their dog offleash in busy traffic, whatever kind of trainer they are. Those whose dogs are reliable offleash are likely to be very careful where they do that, plus they have all the above tools at their disposal.

  2. Likening pulling on a leash (in an emergency no less) with the habitual use of a shock collar to force a dog’s compliance is an example of the logical fallacy called the continuum fallacy. I will be discussing this further in a future post. But the short version is that the continuum fallacy erroneously claims that because there is a range of possibilities between two extremes, there is no meaningful difference between them. In this case the extremes are pulling on a leash to remove a dog from an emergency, which can constitute negative reinforcement, and using a negative reinforcement protocol with a  shock collar as a training method to make them come when called and perform other behaviors. It doesn’t matter that these have a small commonality (negative reinforcement). The respective quantities of aversive used (as a one time emergency move vs a regular method of training) are hugely different. You can see Jean Donaldson’s elegant rant on this subject here.
  3. The question about being 100% stress free misrepresents most trainers’ outlook and constitutes a straw man fallacy. That’s when you argue against a version of your opponent’s position that you or someone else made up, instead of what they are actually saying. Valuing kindness to our animals is quite different from claiming we can and should provide them a completely stress-free existence. And similarly to #2, what a person does habitually (try to make their pets’ lives as pleasant and fun as possible and build up a relationship of trust) and what she might have to do in an emergency (grab them in a potentially startling way) are completely different. You can break a person’s ribs doing CPR, but that doesn’t mean you condone going around punching them the rest of the time.

A trainer who promotes prong collar use recently asked question #3 on a FaceBook thread. He said that his question was genuine. He asked, “Do you allow your child to run into the street because holding their hand stresses them?” He said he really wanted to know because he was trying to understand. So I answered. Here is a slightly edited version of what I said.

I am going to take you at your word that your question is geniune. Good for you for asking and really wanting to know. But I find the question about allowing a child to run into the street rather than holding their hand very, very strange.

Like [the previous poster], I would have established a long time before that moment that holding my hand had very positive associations. But I will add that in any life or death situation, I would do whatever it took with a kid or a dog to physically prevent themselves from running into harm. Including something that might startle or even hurt them if necessary.

The point is that a training session is not a life or death situation. It is a controlled environment. There is no analogy between these two situations. And in the training I do with dogs I want them first to learn that I will protect them. I won’t hurt them. They can come to me for help. I am going to set them up to succeed from the beginning.

The second thing I want to teach them is confidence and competence in problem solving. Training does sometimes  introduce stress. But it needs to be added in a very controlled way. It is well documented with many, many species that fear and/or excessive stress are impediments to learning. So I will indeed, like other posters, be watching my dogs for signs of stress. The more I learn about dog body communication, the better I can do that.

I find the argument that we need to hurt or startle our dogs to help them develop life skills completely empty. (Not sure you said that exactly, but I certainly hear it a lot.) A mature dog has the cognitive ability of what, a two year old child? We are not preparing them to go out in the world on their own. (And even if we were, we wouldn’t have to hurt them.)

We are trying to prepare them for things they will likely encounter. And pain associated with or dealt out with by me (or other humans) is something they will encounter very infrequently as long as I have any say about it! It is something they can be specifically conditioned about, for instance receiving shots at the vet and other husbandry skills.

My correspondent wrote back and said he appreciated my answer.  He said he had recently seen some parents do the very thing he described (give up on grabbing their child in a potentially dangerous situation because it might upset her, and she did run into the street) and that’s why it came to mind. He said that he understood the other point of view better now, and pointed out that we even had some common ground: that some stress is OK and should be introduced gradually.

I panicked a little internally, wanting to write back “But our definition of stress is completely different!!” Then I thought to myself, just back off. We actually have a point of agreement. Don’t ruin it.

This person is not going to stop using a prong because of a Facebook conversation. My friends are not going to condemn me for my comments about stress that could be taken amiss or quoted out of context. Instead, why not just enjoy the moment and figure that one person out there who uses prong collars may stop believing force free trainers are like permissive parents? And that might lead to some other realizations, who knows? I really did appreciate his politeness and apparent interest.

Besides the irritation of hearing it with such repetition, I do not like the “traffic” question because I don’t think it is kindly to bring it up lightly as a point of argument. I have known of accidents to happen to dogs belonging to the most prudent people and the most careless. I’m sure none of them appreciate hearing the subject thrown up as a threat.

So I will end this by asking for comments about safety behaviors. What do you teach your dogs that could save their lives? I wrote a short post with a couple of videos about what I do: Safety Behaviors: Down at a Distance and Recalls.  I hope for comments about some other important behaviors and perhaps some videos. (Does anybody train extreme collar grabs?)

Tan dog is lying down in a grassy yard while a woman wearing a read sweatshirt holds her hand high in the air, palm forward

Clara downs on a hand signal

Here is a demonstration of Clara’s down at a long distance. I can’t claim that much credit for it. It’s a huge advantage with a ball crazy dog that they learn that the reinforcement can happen “out there” as well as near their handler, so it’s not a big leap for them to do stuff at a distance.

Link to the movie for email subscribers.

Thanks for reading! Coming up:

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About eileenanddogs

Passionate amateur dog trainer, writer, and learning theory geek.Eileen Anderson on Google+
This entry was posted in Dog training hints, Punishment, Reinforcement, Terminology, Training philosophy and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

49 Responses to But What if Your Dog Runs Out Into Traffic?

  1. dgarrod says:

    Running into traffic implicates many things – lack of training, wanting to get away or escape from, not having worked on distractions enough, the dog is acting on impulse (so little impulse control) and not making good decisions. I teach my dogs all of the above – we work on foundational skills – especially boundary training, even if that boundary is right around me (the best place in the world to be), we work on off lead cues (much of Leslie McDevitt’s “Control Unleashed” workouts) and work on distance downs approaches and movement away. We work on looking at distractions from chickens to bunnies so they become irrelevant and on whiplash turns. A dog running into traffic has not had appropriate training. However, if I am working with a new dog – prevention and management is key to avoiding this while teaching what you do want to happen around roads. I do a foot tap to curbs very similar to dogs training for the blind – to indicate a curb as a boundary, and the behavior offered sit – you have to make a behavior ineffective, inefficient so it becomes irrelevant through positive associations. The reasons a dog would run into the street in the first place would, with a force free trainer be worked on – working a lot around distractions, teaching impulse control so there is self-control, working on stop cues, and on and on. Case in point: I teach all my dogs to respect unfenced boundaries. One day I was cleaning my truck interior in the driveway. My Chancellor was out “helping me work” 🙂 and he would bring me his ball and I would toss it for him. It got real quiet for a few minutes until i realized Chancellor was not bringing me the ball – looking, I saw it had rolled down the hill, into the street and across to the neighbor’s yard. Where was Chancellor? Lying down at the boundary line (which goes into the street) and focused on the ball. He had been taught to lie down when he was “showing me something” i.e tracking and that is exactly what he proceeded to do BY HIMSELF with a very big distraction, his prized possession, his ball. Most dogs would run into the road to get it and bring it back. Positive training equals the dog will retain their learning, listen to you, and want to be with you – all counterproductive to racing away and into traffic. Really nice article and comments force free trainers need to be able to answer, if they feel they must. I would expect after training my child what a busy street was that they would also use that intellect to look both ways and know “how to” cross the street and to not run into traffic. If I have a small child who hasn’t learned this, then it is my duty to prevent and manage – positive is not permissive. Positive is a way of working with a dog that does not use pain devices, nor does it need to.

    • This is wonderful, thorough information about the appropriate training and I thank you for posting it here! And I love the story about Chancellor. I completely forgot boundary training in my list, so I’m glad you and crystalpegasus mentioned it. Thanks so much for taking the time to write these great descriptions, as well as summarizing the philosophy.

  2. I hate this question!!! It makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. Safety is always primary in my training. I actually have a neighbor who uses a shock collar and her dog is FOREVER running into the street, and she’s chasing after her. She won’t come back (shocking, pun intended). My dogs are boundary trained (using treats and toys) to stop at the road (which is not busy, we live in a no-outlet neighborhood). Still, they have been heavily reinforced for staying in the boundary of the yard and they don’t leave it. The other day, one of my dogs was playing with my neighbor’s dog and her dog ran into the street. My dog, Shelby, immediately stopped at the road. I recalled her and jackpot rewarded her. I was asked how she stops without the use of an invisible fence. I explained that she had been trained to do so. The whole question and situation is just ludicrous though. It really offends me that people think that because I train using a clicker and treats I somehow don’t value the life of my dog.

    • I hear you. The question really is insulting. You know in Jean Donaldson’s piece she comments (more colorfully than this) that she really doesn’t know whether people are being deliberately argumentative or really can’t tease out the difference when they ask this question. Like dgarrod implied, there’s a good case for not even answering such a question. But I think the person I wrote back and forth had heard it enough times that he really wanted to know the answer. Thanks for telling the great story about Shelby.

      • I think most of the time it’s meant to be argumentative, though not always, it sounds like the person you were talking with had a legitimate and particular situation in mind that just happened to go along with this rather annoying question (this one is akin to the “but training with treats makes your dog fat” statement). I was recently insulted by an aversive trainer who said to me, “Well, what do you do when your dog runs into the street and can’t hear the click?” A lot of others got in their snickers before I simply responded, “Well, I certainly wouldn’t click the behavior ‘running into the street’ so my dog not being able to hear the click wouldn’t matter much” Lol. That was the end of that conversation, I know at this point when to argue and when not to. It’s pretty obvious when some people just want to get you going without understanding the training theory whatsoever.

  3. dgarrod says:

    I’m guessing trainers who ask this question haven’t heard of the EMERGENCY RECALL.

  4. ksammie3 says:

    VERY nice post! Excellent rebuttals, and a fantastic job pointing out how rude and pointless this question actually is (abeit in a very objective and courteous manner!).

    I love this:

    “You can break a person’s ribs doing CPR, but that doesn’t mean you condone going around punching them the rest of the time.”

    Amen Amen!!

  5. Jamie Robinson says:

    I train extreme collar grabs among other things. Just as an example with my own dogs, I do seminars on how to deal with aggression and fighting with the foster parents of one of the rescues here, so I’ve trained my dogs to put up with being swung around by their hips, grabbed by the hair and pulled away and of course extreme collar grabs.

    I love this post, it’s something I’ve been trying to find the words to say for awhile. I recently developed what I think will be an effective program on snake aversion without shock. When I posted it on my local Craigs List, the firestorm started. The assumptions about positive training that came up in this firestorm were like your three examples here, but also included – “you don’t think dogs can smell a snake?”, “there has to be balance when training a dog”, “shock collars saved my dogs life”, “there are 5 species of venomous snakes here”, “are you going to throw your cookies at the snake?”, and many others. Sigh

    • Oh man. Throwing your cookies at the snake. A new low.

      That is very cool, the extreme handling you have conditioned. Would love to see video of that. Boy, talk about the potential for misunderstanding, though!

      I’m glad you like the post. I’m going to try to do more in this vein, so I’m taking note of your snake questions. Silly questions aside, that’s really exciting about your program. I’m going to drop you an email with a question.

  6. Marjorie says:

    Great post! One of my dogs is a bit skittish of anyone she doesn’t know reaching for her and she can be a little too anxious sometimes to run back to the car after a walk at the park ( they get a “cookie” in the car once they are buckled in). So, I taught them to jump on a rock or bench on command to that I can put their leash on. I also use a specific rock as a barrier in one park, in that they know to go to that rock (and no further, as the path ends and comes out onto a road) and wait for a treat so that they can be either leashed or turn around and go back the way we came. Funny, just yesterday I was rewarding my dogs for waiting at our special “barrier” rock and there was another dog there giving me his best sit, in hopes he too would be rewarded. I asked his person if he could have a treat and his person said “no, I don’t give him treats, as I want him to respond only to my commands, not treats.” I thought, (well…you can guess what I though!), but kept my mouth shut. He then called his dog to come (several times) and, surprise, surprise…his dog totally ignored him. I cheerfully called my girls to “let’s go” and they jumped off the rock and ran to follow me. I did say, “I guess he doesn’t think working for free is much fun.” Sorry, I couldn’t help it.

    • Oh Marjorie, you made me laugh. You had the perfect setup and said the thing we ALL always want to say! Also, that is wonderfully practical. Go to the rock. I love it. I had never thought of using a natural landmark as a “go to place” place. You rock! (grin)

  7. Great post! There is the 2nd 1/2 of training for emergencies – the human 1/2. Most people’s voice and body movement changes under stress, which means their known cues go away. Training and proofing recalls with different tones and intensities to the voice and learning to stay calm is just as important as training the dog to “come”.
    To answer your question, I train recalls with collar grabs (to the front position,) “In” (go through my front gate or door) with distance. I can send my dogs into my house from 1/2 a block away, “Drop” or long distance down, which I’ve used. My gardener didn’t shut my gate well and my dog got out. She was on the other side of a very busy street when I found her. I gave her the “drop” cue and got her home fine.
    The better Emergency Question would be, what do you do when you’re walking your dog on a leash and you’re being charged by a dog off-leash? This scenario is much more common and I’d be interested what e-collar folks would do.

    • rompingdogs, thanks for sharing that wonderful training! And I agree, you’re asking a much better Emergency Question.

      • Carolyn says:

        Is there a good/best answer to this question?

        Carolyn (and Molly the PWD who has been charged by loose dogs multiple times!)

  8. Marjorie says:

    Believe me I wanted to say so much more. I can’t believe the number of people out there that think all they need to do is bark a command (that they never actually taught or trained for) and then expect compete obedience and an immediate response.

    Eileen..this site ROCKS!

  9. Carolyn says:

    Love this discussion and your wonderful blog Eileen. As you likely remember, dogs dashing after things is a subject near and dear to my heart. I am starting to work on “firming up” my emergency training outdoors (finally!!) with Molly and am very pleased to report that she hesitated only a couple of seconds before responding to my “Molly COME!” as a neighbour attempted to call her over to him through a swale between our two properties. I was thrilled!

    What I would really like to know is, besides working the levels, is there something in particular one could do to desensitize a new puppy to traffic in particular? Many breeds seem intent on car chasing or chasing anything on wheels (bicycles, skate boards etc.) and being able to nip that in the bud would be wonderful. I understand Leslie McDevitt has a puppy book but I haven’t seen it and don’t know if this issue is addressed or not.

    I would still love to know why so many power hungry control freaks are attracted to dog training. I have seen FAR too many examples, even locally! Thanks again for writing this and bringing it back to our attention. I’ll know exactly where to send people when they ask a question or start an argument about the effectiveness of positive dog training.

    Carolyn (and Molly the PWD)

    • Thank you Carolyn. Congratulations about Molly’s recall! You have been working hard on those safety behaviors!

      I’ll check around for resources about traffic chasing. You know, that’s one thing I may never have seen a video on.

      About control freaks–a friend was telling me about a book about this (I’ll get the title from her). She quoted the book as saying that one of the things that controlling people do is actually define you (to themselves, and to others if they can). Kind of an interesting observation in view of the rhetorical wars that go on.

    • Here is a nice series of articles on what one trainer did about car chasing.

      http://www.successjustclicks.com/we-have-a-car-chaser/

      http://www.successjustclicks.com/im-cooler-than-cars-sometimes/

      http://www.successjustclicks.com/meh-there-goes-a-car/

      She added in a note to me:

      The only thing that apparently didn’t get into any of the blog posts was the work I did using a flirt pole as a reward for not chasing the car. See the car moving–look to fostermom–kill the fake bunny on a rope LOL… I gave him an outlet for that drive to chase the car into a controlled game of flirt pole.

      I’m glad to read this myself, so I’m glad you asked the question Carolyn.

  10. Kim says:

    I truly don’t think most people are intentionally being argumentative. My experience is that most people have no idea what the quadrants of operant conditioning even are, much less what positive reinforcement or the other quadrants can accomplish, or why. Others don’t understand that many of us want to have our dogs understand what we are asking (note I said “asking”) them to do. Those others want blind faith from their dogs and label it obedience. They “tell” their dogs what to do, and they don’t want their dogs to use their brains at all.

    I’ve been struggling for 3 years with my VERY independently minded, and far too smart, dog in distraction circumstances. I live very rural so wildlife, not people, roads or cars, are our biggest distraction. Generally her recall is quite good, as is her leave it, down from a distance, emergency collar grab, etc….all of which I work on in tons of environments with huge rewards. However, there is a distance in which she knows that doing what she’s doing is far more reinforcing that what I want her to be doing, and she knows that at that distance there is nothing I can do about it. This is the distance in which I get ‘the finger’. This distance is not fixed and varies from situation to situation.

    She is also one that will detect the slightest change in my voice…if I don’t get the recall word inflection JUST RIGHT, she won’t recall. A little too high pitched (because I’m probably getting erked), or a little too deep (because now I’m probably mad) and she’ll intentionally put MORE distance between us. I have to keep my emotions totally under control if I expect her to listen to what I’ve said. She’s been my biggest challenge ever. The thing is, when I talk about my challenges with her, the first and foremost thing people suggest is a shock collar. I find this disturbing. If anyone of them had ‘listened’ to what I said about her…that if she can read the slightest change in my voice as being something negative that she doesn’t want to recall to, why would experiencing a huge negative (a shock) suddenly send her running back to me?

    Love your blog…very thought provoking!

    • Hi Kim, and thanks for posting. Your dog sounds like a challenge indeed.

      Your mentioning tones of voice made me think–have you added that to the things you condition her to in terms of variability? Sounds like if you did, you would have to start with infinitesimal changes. A challenge!

      Thanks for your kind words. Just checked out your fine blog: you had a feral dog, too! I think you’ll understand a lot about my Clara.

      Eileen

      • Kim says:

        Interesting idea on conditioning the tones of my voice…honestly though, I don’t need to create more challenges with Holly!

        Thanks for checking out my blog. I’m hoping that now that Holly is healed (mostly) I’ll finishing writing up some of the many training posts I’ve started. And once I get my video problem figured out, I’ll have video to go with them. She loves to train tricks…or really just throw new behaviors at me that I’ll reward. So I have lots of videos of that, I just can’t edit them yet!

        Yes, I had a feral girl…and I miss her like crazy. She was a challenge too…but different than Holly. At least they are all working towards making me a better dog trainer!

    • Carolyn says:

      I don’t know the answer to your question Kim but I’m going to make a suggestion. Ted Keresote has written a new book “Pukka’s Promise”. His main focus is dog health and longevity and he has included tons of scientific data to back up his research into food, vaccinations, breeding, etc. He is not a professional dog trainer and does use positive methods with his dogs. However, his most recent dog had an incredible prey drive and would chase big game such as elk and moose, putting himself in danger. Ted finally did resort to a shock collar and he does it in the most scientific, gentle, purposeful manner possible. He uses it as a tool to help his dog understand what he was asking him not to do, and once his dog had that understanding, it was no longer needed. His need was immediate and yours, perhaps, is not. This is not a perfect solution but it was a solution done in the best interests of the dog in question. The author is a gentle soul who, without a doubt, cares about his dog and all dogs. Even if you are not interested in reading about why Mr. Keresote went this route for this one behavior, I highly recommend the book for all its other insights.

      Carolyn (and Molly the PWD)

      • Hi Kim and Carolyn,

        I have a little rule for myself that if someone recommends an aversive, no matter what the context or how gentle, I comment. I want to say to Kim, if you are reading the comments, that Carolyn is long-known to me online and is a great, wonderful humane trainer and I don’t think less of her for this suggestion. Also though, I note that you said it upset you when people suggested this, so I don’t expect it will be particularly more welcome in this context.

        Being a Humane Hierarchy trainer (and I really am going to write about that one of these day), I suppose in theory I don’t rule anything out, although in practice I would not likely go this far down the hierarchy. But I do rule out shock collars because that industry is not regulated, they do not publish information on the output voltage of the collars, and because the collars have shown to be both non-linear and inconsistent in their outputs. In other words, going from setting 4 to 5 may be a huge leap, while going from 1 to 2 is not. And you might not always get the same output on “5” that you did the last time you tried it.

        I know what your intent was, Carolyn. Thanks to both of you for commenting.

        • Kim says:

          Thanks Carolyn and Eileen! I love the discussion and no offense was taken.

          I think like all training tools, they are just that. Tools. And like every tool they have their place. I think in some contexts, with the right trainer (and I personally don’t think there are many *right* ones that use shock collars), even shock collars can be effective. After all it’s just another tool, and in the wrong hands all tools, even a simple flat collar, can go very badly.

          What disturbs me about most people suggesting it is that they use it as the lazy mans way out of training something. Most people just use it to force a dog to do what they want…not actually train it to do what they want. So using a shock collar to “force” Holly to recall is something I won’t do…because force with Holly will last until she learns the distance in which I can no longer enforce the force…which is what she’s already learned now.

          Cheeky little monkey. No one would ever use the tern biddable with Holly! She does nothing unless it’s her idea and she also wants to do it 100%.

          • Carolyn says:

            Of course, I didn’t mean to offend anyone, and I apologize, Eileen, for mentioning this here. We were talking about intellectual challenges to do with dog training and I thought that this book gives a unique perspective on a shock collar under this one particular circumstance. The author wore the collar himself and tested it at all the shock levels so he would know exactly what was needed to get his dog’s attention in the wilds of Wyoming. This dog already had a great recall in any other situation and what the author/owner needed was to just be able to get the dog’s attention under this one set of circumstances to put the recall in place. Of course, a certain amount of “laziness” is involved when people resort to a tool to help them train a specific behavior but the author was unwilling to keep his dog indoors, or tied up, (possibly for years?), until he learned to ignore an elk that might actually wander close to their own property. As I mentioned, he was not specifically a dog trainer, just an owner with unique circumstances, who very carefully strayed from his positive training philosophy just until he could put it back in place the minute the dog understood that even in THIS (very unsafe!) situation, you need to listen!

            I know we are supposed to manage the situations we put our dogs in until they can manage themselves appropriately but that isn’t always realistic. Even in my own life (not the wilds of Wyoming by any stretch of the imagination) things happen that you don’t ever expect and can’t always foresee or be prepared for and there you are with a dog over threshold in a split second. In this case, the author had worked very hard on getting his dog to ignore “big game” and made a decision to use something he would not ordinarily choose in order to preserve a reasonable amount of freedom for his dog. I think its a reasonable discussion to have but perhaps inappropriate here. Again, Eileen, I apologize for bringing this up. My intention was not to challenge positive methods, just to mention something that I thought was interesting.

            Carolyn

            • Hi Carolyn, I was remiss in not replying to this sooner. No apology is necessary at all! I just wanted to make sure that Kim was OK with it, and I felt like I needed to give some context for other readers who may be coming from backgrounds where they are not as familiar with these issues. I probably over reacted. I try to make this a place where anything can be discussed.

              I really enjoy your contributions.

          • And thank you for letting us know that all is OK!

            I think stories such as yours are so valuable, where you share problem solving with a difficult dog and don’t take the easy way out. I know that’s hard.

            I would love to meet your Holly!

            • Kim says:

              Thanks Eileen! She’s a challenge for sure, but in a good way. I am very thankful for her…ever since she entered my life, she’s challenged everything I thought I knew about dog training. She’s certainly helped me become more thoughtful and to make me think outside the box…I definitely can’t take the easy way out with her, even if I wanted to 😉

  11. Gail Anderson says:

    Eileen and all responders, this was wonderful! (I especially liked the Chancellor story. It touched my heart. You ALL do!!

  12. Hey Eileen! You wanted me to leave you a comment with the link to my blog on this topic, so here ya go:

    http://clickertrainedakita.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-wonderful-lovely-oh-so-appreciated.html

    And also, I read your post twice! (: It was really awesome and informative. Thank you for writing it!

  13. genevievebergeron1 says:

    Good blog! I left the world of facebook and trying to get people to understand what +R training and what it isn’t. I just couldn’t stomach the ‘arguments’ put forth for the use of shocks and prongs anymore. I hope blogs like this will be the way to get the message out, especially when written with intelligence and total understanding as this one does.

    • Thanks, Genevieve. I hear you about the arguments. That’s one of the reasons I started a blog almost a year ago. I felt like the stuff I wrote (not FaceBook at that time for me, but on discussion groups) just went down the river. I wanted a place where I had more control over the environment and could write out whole thoughts. (Susan Friedman says that there is evidence that control over one’s situation is a primary reinforcer!)

      My focus comes from something Denise Fenzi said. Paraphrased, that in an online argument, the goal is not to convince your opponent. They’re not likely to change their mind. The goal is to present your argument calmly and cogently to the quiet people reading in the background. I try to keep that in mind and not get in battles with folks who are diametrically opposed to me.

  14. l.a.b. says:

    First let me admit I haven’t read though all of the replies. But one of the first things I was taught in our Puppy Class was an emergency recall. We practice it about once a month, with a really high value reward — like baby food. Just once the Labrador got silly and started running where she shouldn’t. I gasped out the emergency recall and she stopped on a dime and whipped right back around to me. No force. No punishment. Just plan on positive the best things in the world will happen to you if you come to me when I yell “NOW!”

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  23. Auntysocial says:

    What a great blog and a very well written posts I’ve enjoyed reading on here in the last hour or two. An excellent, really enjoyable read I just had and I look forward to reading more 🙂

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