People often ask me what is the best path to take when it comes to gaining insight into the dog and human relationship. The fact is that if your a parent who sets boundaries and limits on your kids which includes saying what you mean you are already light years ahead of the majority of dog trainers currently in business, especially dog behaviorists. You don't even need to own a dog so long as your psychology and ideology is aligned properly as it connects to the authoritative style of parenting. The sad truth is that the epidemic of narcissism which is consuming this generation of youth is directly connected to this self focused and permissive ideology. It has the same negative impact both in the human and dog world.
The fact is the majority of dog behaviorists represent the bulk of this bridge to no where ideology. They are are the same ones who can't get their kids out of the toy department at Walmart but are the first ones to hand out parenting tips even though you never asked for any. They represent your crazy co-worker who actually thinks they should be running the entire show. The foolishness is indeed at a all time high in the dog training world. My advice to anyone seeking to gain real and meaningful experience when it comes to dogs is to take on some tough and seemingly hopeless dog cases.
In fact just hang around with some behaviorists who promote the trash science of dog training as they will have lots of dogs available which they are trying to blame and sweep under the carpet.
The shifting sands of what defines control and change for the dog owner goes deeper than what is seen from the surface or appearance of things. What is seen via the physical by way of response must be put into proper relational context to assess if meaningful change is actually happening. Often dog owners and even trainers assume that relational change must be happening if the dog is responding and going through the motions of various routines. This simply isn't always the case. Those who approach training as a learning based exercise run a high risk of being deceived. The issue of what I define as physical response and relational disconnect is a very real problem. Physical response does not always represent a like minded state the way it is being defined by many. Within the learning based model a fail rate of greater than 50 percent is the norm. Those who fail never get a sense of failure until they leave the controlled training environment and return home with their dog to discover that nothing has changed.
Here are some tips for getting banned from every dog behaviorist discussion site on the internet.
Only go into these sites for short periods of time with the goal of exposing this trash as there is no point arguing based on what this ideology represents…..a belief system.
Expect many to have multiple fake accounts on both facebook and youtube. This is normal behavior for this bunch. If 2-3 show up assume that it is the same person using multiple accounts. Many who use legit accounts do not use their real names regardless.
Be aware that most are not being honest with themselves and therefore it is impossible to be honest with others.
While this group attempts to claim their approach is science based it isn’t. This is an ideology and belief system. I explain very clearly how and why learning breaks down relationally for some and not others.
The goal of this group is to have this ideology enforced regardless of how many dogs get killed. Keep in mind this really has nothing to do with dogs at all with this group. They are engaged in idolatry and worship of self. They mirror their own identity and emotions via this relationship and dogs are devalued as a result. This is the reason why they can medicate and euthanize dogs without blinking. They would rather kill dogs than admit they are wrong and trade their idolatrous ways.
People often ask what is the main problem in society today. My answer would be love of self or what the Bible describes as idolatry. What is happening now within the dog world and our relationship with our pets is reflective of a bigger picture of what is happening in our society at large. In the Book of Jeremiah God calls the people of Israel for out for being "Insane with their Idols" . Jeremiah who was a messenger from God was in fact called the weeping prophet because he had nothing good to say with what was about to happen to Israel and its people. The King at that time even attempted to create a false narrative via false prophets to marginalize Jeremiah and his warning. Israel was ultimately brought into captivity by their neighboring enemies. The fact is they were already in bondage from idolatry before the attack even started. The culture of that time was all about appearances and the worship of self. The fact is the core of idolatry is about self.
I personally believe that the issues taking place at this current time within society represents deeper meaning as it aligns with where we are standing in history. Embracing ideologies which attempt to re-define and change while promoting a false narrative that elevates ourselves above Creator God. It is another bite of the apple.
The issue of idolatry impacts everything. As the period of Grace closes and judgement begins there will be no real answers without having a right relationship with God. Those who seek success and identity without seeking God first will be overrun. There will be no winners but only losers for those left to attempt to make sense of what is happening. It will be an identity crisis like no other.
Just prior to the tipping point of past judgements it was business as usual. The majority never saw it coming. Jesus predicts the same attitudes would exist just prior to the final curtain call on this fallen world. Scripture predicts that "Love of self" or what is labelled as narcissism would be one of the prevalent attitudes abounding during the last days. This is the most narcissistic generation bar none.
If your hope and identity isn't in Jesus than it will be somewhere else. The real question is where is your hope ?
While groups such as Beyond Cesar Millan continue to run a campaign of personal attack and hatred one needs to dig a little deeper to see what attracts people to this group and ideology in the first place. This group states that while Cesar’s methods work they are not recommended due to the discomfort and pain it inflicts on dogs. My question is “Well what is it ?” Either they work or they don’t. This inconsistent statement is a common thread which runs down the middle of this ideology which focuses on the feelings and emotions of dog owners. My argument has been that if this approach worked as well as it is being promoted than there would be no need to run a negative campaign against those whose methods challenge the core of this ideology . While this group attempts to counter this by stating the issue is that there is a better way one must go deeper to see what is really going on beyond the marketing, arguments and hype. The dirty little secret is that this ideology takes priority over dogs. It is no coincidence that most of my client base comes from those experiencing limited results and failure within these treats and reward based systems of training. It is natural for the majority of those in need of help to gravitate towards these systems based on the attitudes of society towards dogs. The lines being crossed when it comes to learning theory and the dominance issue are the very reason why those who are sold out to this ideology must go negative in the first place. Limited results and failure are merely inconvenient truths which are part of this science experiment. What I clearly show is that the consistency of those breakdowns lift the curtain on dogs as relational beings. In my book, Mind & Body Kinetics, I define relational influence and the impact it has on a dog’s decision making process and more specifically unwanted behavior. While the evidence is indisputable it goes beyond what has now become a hard and difficult truth for many to accept. Beliefs have the ability to do that and make no mistake that is what this ideology represents, a belief system. While this ideology continues to gain in popularity it seems that 4 millions dogs being killed every year in North America is not enough to bring most back to their senses. Perhaps the Beyond Cesar Group merely represents a type of what is happening on a bigger scale. I tend to think so. While many continue to focus on their 10 feet of real estate sooner or later they are going to wake up and discover that the rug has been pulled out from under them.
The Academic Divide
By Dale McCluskey
The real searcher after truth will not receive the old because it is old, or reject the new because it is new. He will not believe men because they are dead, or contradict them because they are alive. With him an utterance is worth the truth, the reason it contains, without the slightest regard to the author. He may have been a king or serf — a philosopher or servant, — but the utterance neither gains nor loses in truth or reason. Its value is absolutely independent of the fame or station of the man who gave it to the world. — Robert G. Ingersoll – (1833-1899) American political leader, orator
To better understand what is happening within the dog training community one needs to gain deeper insight into what is fueling this ongoing discourse between behaviorists and traditional trainers.
You may not be aware of it, but there’s a quiet war raging right now in the dog-training world. It’s a conflict between positive reinforcement (+R) trainers and behaviorists like Ian Dunbar and Nicholas Dodmanwho base their methods on the principles of learning theory. They’ve pitted themselves against traditional or dominance trainers like Cesar Millan and the Monks of New Skete, who follow the alpha theory. (Lee 2010)
While many are under the opinion that behavioral science is losing the training wars this may be premature based on the weapons within the behaviorist arsenal. The increasing popularity of the behaviorist model of training has been fueled by an aggressive marketing campaign aimed at appealing to the feelings and emotions of the dog owner.
The APDT quickly grew to become the world’s largest organization dedicated to the training of pet dogs. Since its inception there has been a worldwide explosion of puppy classes run by reward-based trainers. (Lee 2009)
Many trainers have taken full advantage of this marriage of behavioral science and the exploitation of conditioning along with a feelings and emotions agenda.
Along the same lines, I no longer use the words “obedience” or “command” in association with training. According to The Oxford Dictionary, “obedience” means “submissive to another’s will.” The word “command” has its negative connotations as well. Instead I use the words “training” and “cue.” Because training should be a fun and positive experience for both the dog and its guardians, I have chosen to remove all words from my training program that imply unpleasant associations or any type of force. At that point in my career I didn’t realize there were many trainers already using positive methods. I was convinced I was the only one in my city with the beliefs I held, and I felt very much alone. Since then, I have met so many of like-mind, and I’ve learned so much. I continue to learn every day. I’m happy to say, my city now consists almost totally of positive reinforcement dog trainers. (Laurette 2006)
This unholy union of behavioral science with feelings and emotions has created the perfect storm which is raging against nature. As behaviorists continue to promote and market an agenda fueled by feelings and emotions it has become clear that popularity has become the focus.
The saying that a good defense consists of a great offense takes on new meaning when it comes to how behaviorists market and attempt to validate their interpretation and approach to the dog and human dynamic. This aggressive campaign to marginalize and target those who go against the current of behavioral science has done little to stop the ongoing questions and challenges.
Cesar Millan has become the target as a charming, one-man wrecking ball directed at 40 years of progress in understanding and shaping dog behavior and in developing non punitive, reward-based training programs (Derr 2006)
Behaviorists continue to demand validation and that their voices to be heard while at the same time ignoring and dismissing serious questions and concerns associated with their methodology and approach to the dog and human relationship.
The following responses to the Time Magazine Article Dog Training and the Myth of Alpha-Male Training are typical of the public attitude towards the “as is” science.
Dominance theory is dead. Talk it til your blue in the face. To ignore the numerous studies and to keep bringing this down to one or two people is ridiculous. The evidence has mounted. Organizations comprised of 1000s of professionals have researched this through and through. It’s time to move forward. If you smoke and still do – you at least admit it’s not good for your health, no? Well, if you believe in dominance…start to at least admit and digest the fact that these thoughts are antiquated and recognize that the evidence has been presented.
Maybe in your mind. You can talk until your blue in the face. One or Two people? More like hundreds of thousands of dog owners recognize it is not wrong or have you not been reading the posts here and at the yahoo Time article site or visited the Dog whisperer site or the Dog Whisperer Yahoo Group.
The majority of posters recognize that dominance theory is alive and well and believe it and have seen the results on our own dogs. You PHDs can have fun writing your journal articles that the common person cares nothing about debunking dominance theory for the rest of your lives. It’s not going to change the minds of us who believe what we see with our own eyes and have common sense.
What does smoking have to do with this argument? There is no way to make a reasonable analogy.
Where is this so called evidence you have? Hidden in some PHD Journal Article somewhere?
Response by another poster
“The evidence is probably in some biased PHD study that skews the results to make the the theory
work.” Funny you should say that, since that’s exactly how the Alpha/Dominance Theory of wolf packs
originally came about. Even the guy that came up with it says the original wolf study was skewed.
That’s what I hate about those silly PhD’s and scientists, they are more interested in continuing to learn and evolve than they are in proving they were right fifty years ago.
In reality the entrenched positions behaviorists have taken regarding dominance leaves them held within a defensive position. To change their views regarding this issue would cause their model of training to collapse. Reputations and careers sold out to this model of training would be over in an instant. The following exchange between myself and a behaviorist on a popular internet dog discussion forum illustrates the typical response to specific questions and challenges to this method of training.
My question “Tell me why some owners are successful while others fail using the same exact models of training ???? “
Answer by behaviorist
Human error : “bad timing”and inconsistent. Which is true for ALL types of dog training.
” Conditioning is used within several models of training however the behaviorist model of training has a much higher failure rate, why is that ??? “
Can I see YOUR research and evidence on this before answering??
“Why do owners who connect with dogs on a higher emotional level have the most behavior problems and issues ????”
Can I see YOUR research and evidence on this before answering??
” When some dogs move around for treats and clickers and behavior issues don’t diminish why is that ????? ” (This question is regarding why some owners succeed why others fail using the exact same devices, methods, techniques and interactions)
Can I see YOUR research and evidence on this before answering??
This type of avoidance to questions is typical when you begin to pin down and focus in on the problems and issues. Behaviorists are clearly against the wall based on the type of psychology they have aligned themselves with and the positions they have taken regarding dominance. The behaviorist response of bad timing and inconsistent training leads to ultimately blaming the dog and or owner when meaningful influence fails to grab hold and unwanted behavior issues fail to diminish.
I remember reading somewhere that if something isn’t working, Don’t Shoot the Dog! Of course McConnell didn’t shoot the dogs in this case, but she did give up on them. That’s the really sad thing. She won’t give up on her belief in her beloved behavioral science -even though that’s what the data is telling her — but she will give up on her dogs.
McConnell had 4 years to “condition” these behavioral problems away, with little or no success. What are those 4 years of data telling her? That sometimes conditioning doesn’t work. Why doesn’t it work? Because it’s based on an inaccurate and incomplete model of learning, one that fits perfectly with how rats learn to run through a maze, or how pigeons trapped inside a box learn how to peck a lever to get a piece of food. But in this case, it didn’t work to foster a positive social connection between two well -bred dogs, when dogs, as a species, are inherently, with no conditioning needed, the most social animal on earth. I’m not blaming Patricia McConnell for anything except for a failure to re-consider, re-evaluate, and re-think the validity of behavioral science. (Lee 2009)
The until death do us part mentality that behaviorists such as McConnell have with the bridge is out science delusion illustrates the reason why academics have a credibility problem with this issue. What is seen from the surface through conditioning gives behaviorists the illusion, or delusion, that bridges can be built even when they can’t. This suicide pack behaviorists have with behavioral science illustrates why this debate, discourse and division shows no signs of abating anytime soon. Behaviorists feel they hold to keys to knowledge and are the final governing authority when it comes to understanding the dog and human relationship.
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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.
By Dale McCluskey
Where does the foolishness end ? After dozens of phone calls from owners seeking help for their out of control dogs who have earned the Good Citizen Award perhaps it is time to add my two cents. To understand why this trend is happening one need look no further than the ideology the Good Citizen Award is aligned with. It is the same bridge to no where ideology I continue to speak out about as it relates to meeting the relational needs of dogs. This ideology promotes using treats, clickers while pushing the idea that dogs can learn beyond the relational boundary lines of common sense and good judgement. Many of these calls I receive involve owners who are seeking to use their dogs within a service capacity. The disappointment is clear once I tell them that their Good Citizen Award isn’t worth the paper it is written on and they need to begin to invest in creating relational change with their dog. While many are relationally blind based on selling their souls to this replacement theology it is no excuse when it comes to the fact that there are major problems with how learning is being packaged. The issue of physical response and relational disconnect is very real and more common than people realize within these feel good systems. Trainers who are indoctrinated to learning ideology are not in tune to this issue and assume that physical response represents a like minded state. The interpretative script which aligns with many learning models is flawed based on rejecting how a dog’s decision making process is influenced at the relational level. While relational change does happen within any model I clearly make the connection between high fail rates and models which oversell learning theory. In my book, Mind and Body Connection, I expose the many contradictions within this ideology while showing how learning theory is being misrepresented on many levels. The issue of whether this misrepresentation is intentional or not is of little consequence for those who value this ideology over meeting the needs of dogs.
By Dale McCluskey
An ocean traveler has even more vividly the impression that the ocean is made of waves than that it is made of water.
Arthur S. Eddington (1882-1944) English astronomer and physicist.
Behaviorists use social hierarchy as a main pillar to support their positions regarding dominance theory. While promoted as being of sound mind and body the science label attached to this issue is far from passing the minimum standard with making it through nature's front door.
The “pack” and “dominance” theory of domestic dogs is a harmful meme. It prevents many owners from understanding their dogs, causes untold misery for both and is perpetuated by well-meaning but uninformed dog trainers around the world. It is proving extremely resistant to extinction. (Ryan 2010)
This social hierarchy pillar begins to crumble once you begin to gain insight into the real meaning of strength and weakness, dominance and influence beyond what is seen from the surface. What dominance represents is not revealed to the casual observer from the surface of the relationship. It is revealed to those who have both feet in nature and have surrender to its already established laws. It is revealed through the mind and body connection. To gain better insight into how certain branches of behavioral science attempt to support each other under the weight of ongoing challenges a better understanding is needed into the branch called ethology.
Behaviorism and ethology are two different ways of studying animal behavior; one is confined largely to the laboratory (behaviorism), and the other is based on field studies (ethology). Each tells us something different about an animal's response, but the conclusions from both disciplines, taken together, explain all that we see and understand about animal behavior. (Dodman 2010)
Although ethology appears to take the path away from the lab and into the natural environment of the dog it merely a branch from the same behaviorist tree. Its narrow definition as it links with the observable physical force blends with the underpinnings of behaviorism in its adherence with sticking strictly to the physiological point of view. (Skinner 1927)
This behaviorist view regarding dominance can be seen through the one dimensional snapshot and image taken from the surface of the relationship.
Among ethologists, dominance is normally defined as ‘‘an attribute of the pattern of repeated, antagonistic interactions between two individuals, characterized by a consistent outcome in favor of the same dyad member and a default yielding response of its opponent rather than escalation. The status of the consistent winner is dominant and that of the loser subordinate’’ (Drews, 1993).
How force is interpreted and used to support the behaviorist position regarding dominance provides no depth beyond the surface of the behaviorist view. The information revealed by direct and intensive human and dog interaction within the pack relationship provides the standard from which everything else is measured. The nails which behaviorists use to help hold their framework together relies on the feelings and emotions of dog owners to help support its cracked foundation.
If owners believe that a dog does something to ‘achieve status’ or ‘control them’ or ‘be the boss’ it naturally tends to lead people to use coercive training techniques. This relies on inducing a negative emotional state (e.g. fear or anxiety) in a dog in order to inhibit behavior, which has the risk of inducing further undesired behavior or having a negative effect on welfare, as described further in ‘What are the problems of using training techniques that induce fear or pain?’ (Welfare 2010)
What is extracted from social hierarchy by behaviorists, as it relates to force and authority, is twisted and used as fuel to appeal to an owner focused feelings and emotions based agenda. The behaviorist concept of learning (Refer to learning), as it connects with the exploitation of conditioning, is interjected into social hierarchy mix to help prop up the position regarding dominance.
Studies of interactions by dogs shows no evidence of fixed ‘hierarchical’ relationships, but rather relationships between individuals which are based on learning.
The lack of observable physical confrontation and encounters between pack members plays into the interpretation that the pack consists of co-operative family groups, where the parents ‘guide’ their offspring. (Welfare 2009)
This nudging by behaviorists with using language to paint an image of nature shows the breakdown with understanding what dominance represents as it connects with both mind and body. The ability for dogs to assess and interpret each other’s strength or weakness through this connection represents stability and balance within the pack. Each member of the pack is keenly aware of their chances of winning a confrontation before the engagement even happens. This reduces the amount of physical confrontations to a minimum based on how interplay takes place within this structure. Behavioral science does not have the ability to gain traction on what dominance represents based on dismissing this mind and body connection. What is revealed is only a one dimensional image instead of three dimensional which shows the real meaning of strength and weakness as it connects to nature.
Hence, it is commonly suggested that a desire ‘to be dominant’ actually drives behavior, especially aggression, in the domestic dog. By contrast, many recent studies of wolf packs have questioned whether there is any direct correspondence between dominance within a relationship and antagonistic behavior. (Bradshaw 2009)
The connection of the critical dot from the dominant role to the intensity and frequency of unwanted behaviors is lost on those who align with behavioral science. How social hierarchy is used by behaviorists exposes the motives and intent with how the issue of dominance is shaped to fit into an agenda fueled by feelings and emotions.
In the last several decades, our understanding of dominance theory and of the behavior of domesticated animals and their wild counterparts has grown considerably, leading to updated views. (AVSAB – 2008)
While this statement pertaining to updated views may be referring to David Mech's historical ‘mistake’ in the interpretation of wolf behavior and dominance, nature's laws have never changed in this regard.
Early observations of captive wolves gave the impression that wolves live in groups dominated by the “alpha wolf” which got its position through fighting and aggressive behaviors. However these initial observations were hasty and faulty. Early publications, such as The Wolf: Ecology and the Behavior of an Endangered Species. published in 1970, relied on the flawed observations and since little information existed to challenge it many other publications relied on those initial books to provide information unknowingly spreading incorrect assumptions. After biologists, such as L. David Mech, studied wolves in their natural habitat some ideas were revised including the one about a strict linear hierarchy. In 1999 and 2000 articles like “Alpha Status, Dominance and Division of Labor in Wolf Packs” and “Leadership in Wolf, Canis lupus, Packs” were published (respectively) to correct the misinformation. (Alpha 2010)
The changing of position by front line behavioral scientists such as Mech represents the problems associated with those who have taken entrenched positions regarding dominance. The sold out attitudes by those who continue to push forward regardless of the ongoing questions and challenges creates the appearance that behaviorists are manipulating the facts and the science to make the square peg fit into the round hole. It is clear from recent behaviorist studies from dominance and attempt to make it fit.
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.