Dominance Theory Question
Since the forums were down I was left to wander aimlessly around the internet looking for something good to read.  I found someone asking a question about their 16 week old GSD puppy who didn't always mind basic commands and was biting.   One of the first comments was to get a shock collar and to use the vibrate setting and if that didn't work go to the shock setting.  I couldn't decide if this suggestion made me want to have an anxiety attack or burst into tears (or both). Cry 

My thoughts before I read the comment were:
1) 16 week old puppies can be a bit of a bubble brain no matter how smart they are, stay calm and be patient.
2) Context is everything.  "Sit" in the kitchen might not translate to "sit" in the living room.
3) Proofing.  A 16 week old puppy is very young and may not completely understand what is expected.
4) Handler error.  Saying "sit" with emphasis on the "s" or the "it" or tilting your head, moving your hand, etc. so the puppy doesn't really know the cue unless you perform it the same EVERY time.
5) 16 week old puppies are babies. Love and train and love, repeat.
6) Puppies get tired and overstimulated just like toddlers and have very little impulse control.  Nap time may be in order.
7) If a puppy likes to bite/mouth (my GSDs as puppies were horrible with this) give them something that they can bite/chew.  Kongs filled with something yummy, play tug.  Give a puppy and outlet for her chewing.

So here is my question.  If you have been around, worked with, or been bullied by someone who trains from the dominance theory, do they really think everything a dog does that is undesirable is all about the dog wanting to be the boss?  Do they not understand that fear, stress, excitement, lack of training, context, or possible that the dog is a bit clueless have anything to do with behavior?
IRL I'm not sure I know anyone who isn't in at least the slightest agreement with DT. My older siblings both own huskies (which is a rather headstrong breed might I add) and they think that shock collars are fine SO LONG AS you test the shock on yourself first to make sure it doesn't cause any discomfort. And like any training tool they can be misused so you should have the knowledge before using them.

I'm not saying I agree with them but there are a few things I consider.
  1. Huskies are VERY headstrong and nothing seems to get them down (but when something does it will break your heart)
  2. I do believe that my siblings have their huskies' best interests at heart
  3. Every breed and dog is different and so you will need to adjust your training methods according (I am in no way suggesting or advocating for the use of shock collars or other such DT training tools though)
I don't think my siblings buy the whole "the dog is trying to dominate you" thing though. Honestly I don't think it wise or kind to judge someone based on how they train their dog (or at all even...) There could be any reason for it like "it worked for me" or "it's quick and easy" or just straight out ignorance.

We should do our best to let our actions speak for our words and kindly and gently guide others to the kinder and gentler methods of training, just as you would do for your dogs. It may not be the easiest or fastest way of doing it but it sure is the most charitable and least hypocritical way of doing it.
Loyal Border, I understand what you are saying. I read about someone who's dog kept getting playful with a porcupine. Once and twice didn't work to make the dog run away and to keep the dog safe a shock collar was used. I had a friend who had a dog that loved to harass the local livestock and she also used a shock collar to keep her dog on her property (to keep it from getting shot). I do understand that sometimes, if it involves life or death, a shock collar may be an option. I know that Huskies are really headstrong and they love to pull and run, which doesn't always work out in the suburbs.

But a 16 week old GSD puppy....that won't respond to basic commands....

I think that sometimes people use shock collars to train something in an instant that could be trained over time with kinder methods. I am beginning to think that I want to tell people, "Train something every day for 30 days and that is the minimum to train if you want to proof something". I really believe that the "shock collar" people want a quick fix and a quick fix is not the way to train a puppy.
True true. A shock collar should only be used as a last resort (personally I would hope not at all.) I don't think that shock collars are at all necessary and whatever good they bring can be brought through other nicer methods e.g. the training disks that Quirkydog kindly introduced us to.

But to your point, a shock collar should never (IMO) be used on a puppy. A puppy has barely had any chance to live and been shown the correct way of doing things. Jumping right in to a shock collar is a little too trigger happy.

Furthermore, I don't think that everyone who uses a shock collar knows how to use one. I am led to believe that the people advocating for its early use don't fully know how to use it as well. And the people that they're pushing to use it who have never used it before certainly don't know how to use it. It's a setup for disaster if you ask me.

I don't know what those people are thinking and I'm not sure I want to know. I would hope that by being kind and showing them how beautiful my dog turned out with non DT methods would be enough to get them to rethink how they train. Personally I would one day like people watch me and Kep and say things like "wow, look at those two go! They're amazing! How did you train your dog to do all that?" In which I could simply answer "love, kindness and patience". Right now though I'm trying to get to the point where Kep won't bark at people for just looking at him. Tongue (with positive methods of courseď Big Grin)

I do have a question for you though. How would you go about to approach those people or how would you defend yourself against them? I am by no means a people person and if I start talking to a new person I get all jittery. Heck, if I start to argue with anyone be it a family member or someone new I get jittery.
I really don't know if you can defend your training methods with DT people. I have seen a several conversations where someone suggests that using a shock collar isn't a good way to train and it usually turns into name calling by the DT person (that is why I used the word "bully" in my first post). The other thing that amazed me about the suggestion was that it was so casual, "Go get a shock collar." Nothing about working with an experienced trainer. If a person makes a major mistake in training with a clicker and cookies about the worst that will happen is you end up with a confused dog and frustration for both dog and handler. I hate to think of all the damage that could be done making even a small mistake with a shock collar.

I have a dog training DVD that I have had so long I don't remember where it came from. I watched it around the time we got Tasha to see if there was anything helpful. The trainer was working with a young GSD, around 9 months old. The dog had a prong collar on and the trainer gave the command "down" and at the same time yanked hard on the leash. Dog yelps and goes into a down. The dog wasn't even given one second to obey the command. I can't understand how anyone would think that was a good way to train.
I still stew about my coworker wanting me to go with a company here in town (that apparently is a huge US chain). When I got Ember we had some not so great days to start with, and he had sent several dogs to this trainer. His current GSD 2 year old still has to wear the shock collar from when she was trained at 6 months. Coworker went so far as to have said trainer show up in the office and offer to train Ember for free if I would do some basic computer work for him - he really wanted to work with my dog. I described her as fearful and his response was "I can fix that in 3 weeks". Told me I had to board her with him and he'd return her to me a different dog.

To this day I still get quips from my coworker about "You wouldn't have to work this hard if you let someone else do it". So yes, they can be bullies, and there is no telling them otherwise. Of all the progress I've made with Ember, he will always believe I took the hard way and worked with less than successful people (he doesn't like my behaviorist), so therefore it's my fault she isn't "fixed".

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Gotcha Day: November 14, 2015
Vet-Listed Birthday: May 2, 2014
Well, thanks for answering my question. Being quiet about conflicting issues is what I'm good at anyway. Tongue I guess it would be best to just be quiet and polite to avoid any sort of blow-up.

Not only are the mistakes with a shock collar more devastating but they are also easier to make. The whole idea of the shock collar helps lead you to the mindset of "take that, you're getting what you deserve" which all together makes you more likely to abuse shock collars. It's a setup for the butterfly effect if you ask me. People can call me what they will but I think it's sad to see dogs forced into that mindless state where they listen because they don't want to be hurt instead of out of love. Even if someone is using a shock collar on it's lowest setting where it's only a vibrate I think it takes someone with full knowledge of what they're doing, the risks involved and a clear mind that won't get carried away and I bet they're aren't that many who meet these qualifications. Also, what happens if the dog starts to choose to ignore the vibrate? The user will probably end up turning the settings up where it's a bigger vibrate or small shock. Well what if the dog starts to ignore that as well? Well then, it's probably time for the user to turn the settings up so it actually does inflict pain. And now you're back to the point of using pain to train your dog.
I go the bi partisan route. Not show my opinion either way.  I state I am vain and the box on the collar is not the look I am going for. If I feel I am capable of speaking when the topic is brought up. I also say that and the classes I chose do not happen to allow them. Meantime  the  head and heart I cringe and cry a bit.
I can't imagine the trauma a DT trainer could do to a dog like Ember or Mattie. I really would like to know what a trainer would do that he thinks would fix a terrified dog in three weeks (wouldn't want to see him try, just curious as to what he thinks would work).

LB, you really made an interesting point that I never thought of. That even if you think you will only use the vibrate setting, it changes the mindset of the trainer. One of the things I love best about my dogs is working with them and training something new. I love building each little skill to teach something new and I love when the dog figures out what I want and takes pride in the accomplishment. I love the process, even if it takes months.

KBB, I think I try out the vanity excuse if the subject ever comes up, no point in arguing with crazy.
Another non confrontational way out of someone face to face discussion. I would just state no matter how much research when there is a need or how to use the  tool I don't feel experienced  in training to attempt using one safely.
 On another note ....What happens if some little kid gets a hold of the controller?

I knew someone who looked to be using what I personally consider dominance training and swore up and down it is not. But my nervous system after spending time with them and their dogs said otherwise. Some of these people love their dogs to bits. And NEED them....they are the one safe thing they can count on. They can't control their world around them enough to feel safe....but one place they can feel like they are confident with their dogs.

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