I ran into the following problem around a week ago when I took my newest dog out in public ... the jumping is something we are working on, but we can't address that fully until we build up some self-control (of which she has little to none - she's like a bouncy ball). Since the jumping was a behaviour that was reinforced with both praise and cookies, it takes time to redirect. (Don't get me started - that's another rant for another day!)
So we're hanging outside, working on self-control and watching people walk by. She's doing very well. At this point, I am telling people that no, they can't pet her; she's training. Most people accept this and move on. When they stop, she gets up to approach the people and I put her back into her sit. She settles in pretty quickly at this point. (We do spend time working with approaching "strangers" - people I know but she doesn't - but that's not what we were doing that day)
One woman asks why I don't just let her approach so she can give the dog a pat? I say "Two reasons - One; I don't want her to get used to just running up to every person she sees. Some people are afraid of dogs. And two because we are still working on jumping and I don't want her to jump on you."
The woman replies confidently "Oh, don't worry - I'll just knee her and she'll get off quickly."
"WHAT!?" I said loudly. "You can't do that! You should never knee a dog."
"Why not?" She asks. "I've always done that. I had friends with two big dogs and that's how I taught them not to jump on me"
"Why not?! Well, for starters, you can quite easily break the dog's ribs." I say (which she scoffs at and dismisses).
"Do you know how thin a dog's ribs are?" I ask her. "They are TINY! Not to mention that this dog is only about 25 lbs ... her ribs are probably thinner than your finger bones. Do you think your finger bones would hold out to being kneed? Besides that, if you break them, what if it pierces the dog's lung? Now the dog has to go to an emergency clinic, will need surgery and will quite probably die." Ok, granted - I'm starting to use scare tactics on the woman, but she is just not listening. I really wanted to ask her to brace her finger on a ledge and I would knee it - that way we could see if it would break, hurt or not.
"Well it worked for those big dogs that used to jump on me" She retorts. "They got off right away."
This still isn't working, so I use a different approach. "Of course they got off right away - you just gutted them. Best case, you knocked the wind out of their sails. Worst case ... well, do you still see the dogs?"
"I haven't visited them recently. I'm pretty busy you know; I have a life" She replies. (As though I know what this stranger's personal life is like?)
So I move on and ask. "Would you give the dog an upper-cut with your fist as hard as you can?"
She shakes her head No while saying "Of course not! That would be cruel."
"Then why would you do it with your Knee instead? Look at the shape of your knee when it's bent - does it not look like a fist?" I ask. She nods. "Then why would you think that kneeing the dog is any different than using your fist? How fast is your knee coming up? So how fast would you use your fist to come up if you were to mimic this action?"
So she left and I continued working with the new dog. Now, keep in mind that I probably embarassed the woman and she likely refused to consider different methods because of that. I would hope that she left and continued to think about what I said. Perhaps she won't knee the next dog. Perhaps she will. I can't change the world - just me.
Ok ... here's my inspiring thoughts for today ...
We all agree that there are different training methods when it comes to dogs. Some work, some don't. Some are too good to be true. Some mask and DON'T train. Some are idealistic but in reality don't work.
I don't have all the answers, that is why I keep searching and learning. I want to know. Every day I learn something new; sometimes it is totally new, sometimes it contradicts something else. That doesn't mean I stop looking for answers; it just means I consider that the answers I find may not be the absolute truth.
I have been studying, learning and reading about dog training since I could pick up a book. Some people enjoy reading fiction books (mystery, romance, fantasy); I read non-fiction. The very first book I read about dog training encouraged the use of choke collars. That doesn't mean it wasn't true, it just meant that at the time it was the best practice. For some dogs I still use a choke (the ones I don't know won't take my arm off, for example!).
The world is constantly evolving and changing ... so too should we. If you've got your head too far up your ass that you can't even acknowledge new things then that's really unfortunate and you are doomed to eternal failure. What's even worse ... you doom your dog to failure.