Monday, February 1, 2010

Training Methods Discussion by Lorraine May, M.A.

Join the discussion on facebook at The Misha May Foundation's discussion board.

When I consider a training method or technique, the most important aspect is its impact on my relationship with my own dogs, or The Misha May Foundation rescue and client dogs.

One way to stop the need for rescue is for humans to try and understand canine culture, and offer patience and compassion, just as they themselves would expect when learning something new or facing something unfamiliar.

To that end, Misha May has developed a 6 week class called Understanding Dogs.

When considering a technique, I ask myself some of the following questions:

1) Will this lower the anxiety level of the dog helping her to learn more easily and feel safe in the world?

2) Will this instill trust and confidence in my dog for me, as a knowledgable leader with fair, consistent and realistic expectations?

3) Is there sufficient motivation for my dog to learn this or do this - just as humans expect to be paid $$$ at work?

4) Am I teaching my dog not only precisely what I want her to learn about a specific behavior, but also what I want her to believe about the world, which, for me, is that it is a fun, exciting, and safe place where she can relax and enjoy life with me.

5) Is this based on canine behavior science tailored to fit the individual dog, rather than a cookie cutter approach, an erroneous extrapolation from wolf culture, a release for the trainer's own frustration, an attempt to oversimplify the issue to reach a quick solution regardless of long term consequences, or an exultation of the trainer with the dog being just a prop?

To submit training or behavior questions or to receive our email newsletter Misha May Mutterings with answers and tips, email

Let's stop talking about Cesar, and start talking about dogs and the questions we need to ask ourselves!

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