One of the issues that can be very confusing and deceiving when it comes to behavior is recognizing the difference between associative vs relational change. While both offer the same physical response from first appearances only relational change influences unwanted behavior it comes to impacting the decision making process of the dog. Associative change happens via connecting or associating a negative experience to getting something good such as a treat. The learning based concept is commonly used for situations where the dog is displaying highly dominant or aggressive responses towards people and or situations. To understand why this concept breaks down for many one must be able to shake free from the ideological restraints and consider that physical response may not always represent a like minded state and that relational change is moving forward. To understand how physical response can be disconnected one only needs to take a look at the narcissistic individual to gain insight into the problems with learning ideology. The underlying motives for response and what influences it must be put within the proper relational context. Associative change can be compared to repainting a vehicle without replacing any of the important parts under the hood that makes the vehicle move. It will look great, appeal to the emotions of the person and make a sale until you turn the key to drive down the road. Associative change is like changing out the picture and imagery from the surface but that is as far as it goes. It paints a false image of nature. The dog will associate the person or situation to something good but it is comparative to merely creating another narcissistic supply source. This acceptance by the dog is based on role reversal fulfillment. Those who mirror their emotions via the relationship are also getting their needs met based on this role reversal. This is the reason why it is so difficult to get people to change based on both getting their needs met but for the wrong reasons and based on the opposite roles. Those who promote learning ideology have great difficultly connecting these dots based on the core tenants and interpretive script in play.
Dale McCluskey is a published author with 20 years experience in the dog training field including numerous awards, distinctions and achievements. Dale uses a one of a kind relational approach which offers hope for all dogs and owners.