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After posting an extensive blog which nobody saw, I'd like to move this (so far one-sided) conversation to the main page. Currently in the dog training world, there are two schools of thought: those that use dominance theory techniques and those that use positive reinforcement. It's possible that the best case scenario lies somewhere in between, but I strongly believe that some of the techniques used in the dominance based theory are not only emotionally harmful to our dogs but also counter-productive. Lets take, specifically, the alpha roll. This technique is used, and over-used, by one of the most popular trainers of our day. Here is the back ground on this posting today (click here). My comments are close to the end.

So, the reason I'm moving this conversation back to the front page: I'm finding more excellent writings to share in support of my beliefs. Here is the latest, taken from an issue of the APDT Newsletter (Assoc. of Pet Dog Trainers). The following quote is from Dr. Ray Coppinger, a biology professor and a co-founder of the Livestock Guarding Dog Project, who takes a clear position against alpha rolling:

"I cannot think of many learning situations where I want my learning dogs responding with fear and lack of motion. I never want my animals to be thinking social hierarchy. Once they do, they will be spending their time trying to figure out how to move up in the hierarchy."

I found this to be a very interesting observation that I hadn't yet considered.

Your thoughts?

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Comment by Ben Swan on May 16, 2009 at 3:33pm
Everyone looks for some magical moment in dog training. It happens, but like anything, it takes love.
Comment by CindyR on May 16, 2009 at 3:28pm
I recently saw this in an email and believe it originally came from an unknown dog trainer's blog. Thought it was appropriate to add to this posting:

The following is something I've always said to people when they rave about that TV trainer who shall remain nameless: "Does it work? Yeah, probably. And battered wives often stay with their husbands too."
Comment by Lisa on April 15, 2009 at 9:50am
I guess I lean more towards the positive reinforcement type, along Kevin Behan's belief of Natural Dog Training. It to me makes the most sense. And it makes a much better partnership with out beloved canines.
Comment by Ben Swan on April 14, 2009 at 1:10pm
what do you mean nobody saw? As Emily Dickinson once said, "I'm nobody; Are you nobody too?"
When Beta was a puppy, I often tried the alpha roll, thinking in the back of my mind, that that would do the trick in making this decidedly alpha dog into a beta dog. It did nothing except increase her aggression. On the other hand, it was a definite party trick: Watch my dog go insane! It was stupid, sure, but I'm human. I've learned a lot since then, especially in terms of being a kinder, gentler human. I think my dogs appreciate it.
Comment by P. Price on April 14, 2009 at 10:27am
I am relieved to see an increasing shift away from harsh training techniques. It has been proven to be a benefit for both for companion animal and human on so many levels. Kindess, love and trust building only deepens a bond. Teaching fear, uncertainty and pain only kills a being's spirit. As new information presents itsefl to us, we need to shift our awareness.

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