It is the year 1999. At that time, the dog training world was still in order! I didn’t have to worry much about my dog’s needs. The fact that I was nice to Shiwa when she behaved the way I wanted to was enough. Nice words, frequent stroking and patting when she did something well and when not, was corrected. I couldn’t please Shiwa with balls and other toys anyway and carrying treats was kind of annoying. I also didn’t want to make myself dependent on treats in training. The dog follows the leader of the pack due to its charisma. Rewarding treats was okay in puppy age, but by 1999 she was almost grown up, so she had to obey. The absence of a punishment is a reward enough.
Our dog school, to which we took over an hour’s drive, was great. I really mean it as it says there. For the time, it was very progressive. We searched for a long time because in the Pinneberger area, blows by hand or leash were normal in many schools. We didn’t want that. So we really didn’t train in our chosen dog school. There was also a lot of theory classes. We learned that we had to start playing and stop playing, that the dog was only allowed to eat after us, that we had to go through the door first, and so on. This should encourage respect and commitment.
We practiced practically “speechless”. The trainer put a lot of emphasis on hand signals, praised with voice and stroking, and only occasionally a treat for the adult dogs, if they had already mastered an exercise.
But was what we did non-violent?
Back then I was very proud of our performance! When I watch the videos, they make me very thoughtful. How could I be so “blind”? I acted because I was convinced that I was doing something really good – for Shiwa and me. At Shiwa, this type of training apparently “worked” for us. She barely resisted, she endured. Shiwa often ran without a leash, without a collar – she showed little exploration behavior. She had a lot of freedom. How “free” was she really?
I treated Zara as I had learned over the years. She also endured it, but avoided it more and more. However, their behavior towards other dogs and people became increasingly uncomfortable.
Tali showed us that what we did may not work. Well, he’s a male, so you have to be clearer. No. Didn’t work. He clearly showed us his and our limits. It would definitely have been a matter of time before it escalated. Fortunately, we noticed this clearly waving fence post. We went on the search again and were taken by the hand of dear people. They showed us how we could get access to our dogs again with training based on the positive reinforcement.
Everyone is free to train with his dog either way. I just wished that people who were still training like we did in 1999 really “looked at” their dogs, noticed them and then decided for themselves if they really wanted to. If the dog obeys in the hope that there will be no punishment, it is not really desirable.
How do you feel when you go through life and fear everything you do that you will be punished? How much more do you dare to try, explore, explore? How much fun do you have when learning new things? How does it feel for you to live with someone who is completely unpredictable? I would love to go back in time for Shiwa. I can not. That hurts.
Back in 1999, the dog training world was not in order from my point of view today …!
“It makes a difference whether a dog follows his dog out of fear of being punished for a mistake or whether the dog is the attractive center of a dog’s life.”