Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Training Rant - Grey Matter

Ok, I've read trainers who preach both sides of some arguments and it drives me crazy. On the Furniture. Off the Furniture. Feed rawhide. Don't feed rawhide. Do this. Don't do that.

I really dislike it when it is all or none ... black or white ... good or bad. It bothers me. Why? Probably because it is misleading and it's not real life. Correct me if I'm wrong, but in my experiece, real life is not yes/no, black/white, good/bad answers ... it is full of grey matter. When trainers start preaching their way or the highway and push that the only way is their way, it really irks me.

On the flip side, it really bugs me when I am talking to a client and they want a definite answer. I can't always give that.

Sometimes the answer really IS "maybe".

Next time you're talking with a trainer or veterinarian about your dog, please don't get mad if their answer is maybe. It could be that "maybe" is the best answer they can give.

Have you ever had an experience with this? When? What was it about? Was there any grey matter?


Cyndi and Stumpy said...

Life, in general, is a trial and error experience. that includes training and medical issues, canine or otherwise.

I am trying to think of specific black, white or grey areas, but they are mostly grey. Dependant on individual dog(s) and handler.

OldMorgans said...

All my life I have been blessed, or cursed, with the ability to see all the gray in between areas. Rarely is there a black/white distinction although people want things that way as it seems easier.
Any more I borrow from Ray Hunt (the Horseman) and say "It depends..."


Dr Ferox said...

I can think of one: If the dog bites a child, it should go.

I absolutely hate doing behavioral consultations for clients with neurotic dogs. They take much, much longer than the 15 minutes I'm allocated to do it in, and I don't really want to give an animal mind altering drugs. (The exception being a single sedative for a plane flight or similar). I end up with a whole list of things people can try to solve their situation, when what they really wanted was one answer. Of course it depends on things like their commitment and the house setup too, which I can't see.

I tend to end up telling people "This is our plan A. We have other options, including medication. You can also contact this other list of people including trainers and behaviour specialists. It's going to be a longterm issue. Sorry."

Life With Dogs said...

I'm in your camp - hard and fast rules rarely work for anything in life.

GoLightly said...

Oh, all the time.

No such thing as the one right way.

Cyndi and Stumpy said...

Dr. Ferox,
With all due respect, I am going to disagree. Whether or not the dog needed to be gone (what to you mean by "it should go') would depend on more than a few things. For example, the age of the dog, the age of the child, the circumstances surrounding the event and the ability/commitment of it's owners to prevent another bite.

DogsDeserveFreedom said...

Great comments.

Regarding the biting ... I have met a fair amount of children who should never be allowed near a dog. Even the most well behaved dog can bite and if they are provoked by a child, I do not believe it is always the dogs' fault. Sometimes it is the owners or the child.

mytwh said...

Hi All-Haven't been on in a while, busy, busy! Any way, regarding the bite, I do have to disagree with Dr. F. I just had a foster, young Boston Terrier, was left outside and no one did anything with him. Great, great dog, but very mouthy...well no wonder, no one ever taught him that biting is wrong! This isn't his fault-this was the crappy owners fault who left him outside all the time and then dumped him at the shelter! Every time you went to play with him he'd latch on. Now, I said no kids in his ad until he learned biting was unacceptable. And then I taught him not to bite! But if he would have bitten someone while playing (besides me and my husband) I wouldn't have blamed him and he wouldn't have gone anywhere, he doesn't know any better until he's taught. But just to be safe, I would have kept him away from kids until he learned. You have to evaluate every situation and can't make a blanket statement like that.