"Why would you recommend a dog be trained on your methods rather than be trained with a clicker or other positive methods? By this, I mean things that can be taught equally well through another method. If it is because you feel your method is superior to others, why is it?"
Remember that I said that most of my clients come to me with problems that others have not been able to solve. Those others have usually tried at least one method, many have tried several methods. Usually those methods involve the softer ones. They've already been tried and so I see no advantage to trying them again. I have no problems if someone wants to try "a clicker or other positive methods" as long as they give the owner results in a timely manner. Only the owner can determine what "timely" means. I know of one owner who worked with a dog for three years, trying to train a recall. To me, and to most, that's excessive. But I also think that six months to get a reliable, off leash recall is excessive. For the record, the word "reliable" means to me that the dog will recall from any distance that the command can be heard, seen or felt, that the dog will recall with one command and that it will work in the face of any distractions. I'm certainly not requiring 100% compliance, I don't even think that's possible but certainly 99% is.
FEW people have the ability to teach, even basic OB, as you say, "equally well" using those methods. We'll hear from several experts who have devoted years to learning those methods and are willing to spend months getting reliability with them. But as has been pointed out, many, if not, most, pet owners are not willing to do that. This is just a fact of life. Some folks love spending hours working with their dogs, but many pet owners do not. They want to (and will) own a dog but they don't want to spend huge amounts of time getting them trained. A visit to just about any dog park will confirm this, and you'll see FEW pet owners with good control.
Some will respond that those people should not own dogs and/or that they don't deserve them. But I'm a realist and know that's not going to stop anyone.
Someone who trains with an Ecollar can get a reliable recall and sit in a week or two by spending a relatively, very short time. This is done without any of the pain, scaring the dog or the rest of the nonsense that the anti−Ecollar crowd puts out. Yes, of course, those things CAN HAPPEN if the tool is not used properly. But using it properly, so these things don't happen, is easy. The instructions for this are on my site, they're free and they're pretty easy to do. Most people are amazed at the results they get in the very first session. Usually there are dramatic behavior changes there.
Peekaboo wrote, "You said in a previous post that you don't like it when a person trains the dog with a different method and then uses the ecollar for proofing the behavior. Why is this? Do you feel there would be harm in doing it this way and, if so, what harm?"
Maybe I wasn't clear enough. It's not that I don't like it, it's that often the people who train like this don't show the dog how to control the stim. I've seen this repeatedly. This method is even on the Ecollar DVD put out by one of the biggest sellers of DVD's on the Net. He turns the dog loose and gives a command that the dog already knows, while on leash. If the dog does not comply he hits the button. If the dog still does not comply, he turns it up and up and up, hoping and expecting the dog to guess right. Sometimes this works but often it does not. Even when it does, it subjects the dog to much more discomfort, probably tending into pain, than necessary.
The harm is that the dog becomes confused if he's not shown how to make the stim stop. Confusion leads to unreliability. Unreliability leads dogs into dangerous situations, the horrorshow being "the run towards the road" that I frequently trot out. The harm is also that he's subject to more discomfort than necessary. I like dogs. I don't like to hurt them. But I have no problem in imposing some minor discomfort to get reliable performance, that, in the long run, gives them the freedom to be off leash when it's appropriate.
Peekaboo wrote, "As has been mentioned, there is concern that the dogs be happy to train, to work. When working with aversives, we often see that the dogs aren't happy, that they lose that spark or they look like they really don't want to be doing what they're asked to do. What do you have to say about this in regards to your methods?"
I've trained for decades with the use of aversives and the dogs that I've trained have always been "happy" and had "the spark." They've always looked like they "really want to be doing what they're asked to do." It's my opinion that when you get the result you describe, it's because the aversives have not been applied properly and/or they've not been balanced with enough reinforcement.
Peekaboo wrote, "Do you have any videos of dogs that have been trained on your method?"
No, I don't. I'm not in the business of dog training, which makes "the financial involvement" claim, that some have made against me, all the more groundless. If I was, I'd have dozens of them up on the Net, so that I'd get more business. All of my advertising is word of mouth and I have more work than I want. I regularly turn people away, instead referring them to my articles, reassuring them that they don't need to spend the money to train with me, that they can get it done themselves. I let them know that if they give it a try but still are having problems, that I'll work with them. Usually the next communication from them is that they're very happy with their results.
I don't think that such videos of dogs being trained really show very much. You have no idea if the person even really trained that dog. It's not unheard of that a trainer will purchase an already trained dog and then will pass it off as if he'd done the training. And most of them have been heavily edited. Have they removed the bad work? No one knows.
I think the true measure of a trainer is not how good his own dogs are (again, we really don't know if he did the training). It's how well the dogs of his clients take to the training! If they don't, then I don't think much of his work. I think that word−of−mouth and testimonials are the best measure of this, not how slick his website is, or how many videos he has available to look at.
Thanks for the opportunity to clarify. Lou
Edited by author Sun Dec 2, '12 8:36pm PST