I am beginning to think I have opened a subject too big to cover in a dog training blog. This series would be best on a Philosophy and culture website or my personal site. While the article is about training it goes beyond training. The subject involves control in general and to what degree are we willing to force our desires onto another. What form does our preferred style of force take?
It appears that at least some to these posts will not be focused on dog training, but general ideas related to controlling others. I feel it is important to consider these issues when training our dogs. Control will come up as a major theme when you embark on a dog training program and even after you have quit formal training. Training never ends. You are training your dog anytime you interact with it. Your dog is always learning about its environment.
How the Environment controls behavior is a worthy area of consideration. The environment plays a part in controlling many aspects of dog training, self governance, and interacting with others. The Environment is a huge controlling variable.
The “Is Positive Reinforcement Best” series is setting the stage to work through the linguistic wrangling of a contentious question. I want to find an answer that will cut through the emotional clutter. Originally I intended this to be a short series of posts. Now I don’t know how long it will be. As I ponder the illusions and practices of controlling our dogs the project has become much more interesting.
One of the interesting attributes of dog training is it can take on many of the roles and functions found throughout society. It is a mix of Culture, Philosophy, Strategy, Science, Economics, Mythos and Personal Beliefs.
Dog training encompasses the human experience. Dog training gives us a way to both express and model what it is to be human. We can see the best and the worst of humanity in the human/dog experience. Dogs are micro cultures within a household and they are also players in a macro culture influencing world politics.
I have a wide area of interests so I may reference ideas that are culturally different than what is familiar to most. The figure of Edshu is from an African tradition. The Edshu story I am most familiar with is his causing mischief by wearing a red and black hat. It is quite common for me to don my imaginary black and red hat when I have some question that needs to be answered. In this series I am afraid I am going to wear that hat. So please forgive me I don’t want anyone to be judged or condemned because of my hat or my insight. The Edshu story as I learned it is a little different than the wikipedia version.
So many blogs I read are the same old thing; they just repeat what other people say.
I have read that when people explain what others want to know about it’s called being a thought leader. I may do that in this series of articles, but I hope to accomplish something more. Hopefully I can do more than explain an aging argument or an entrenched dogma. I hope to add new meaning to an old question. Find new answers and help people gain new insight. I do not desire to be a thought leader as much as I try to be a thought innovator. You wouldn’t want me to just rehash the same old thing would you?
One problem with innovation is it can be controversial. When I started using positive reinforcement, I was constantly told I could not do that with dog training. I took a lot of heat for my training style and my views of how best to control the dogs I worked with. Now some years later there is a new all positive reinforcement culture that has developed some interesting qualities of its own.
Until next time
Wishing you the best in dogs and the best in life,
Southern California Dog training