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Tuesday, Jun. 18th 2013

Intelligence in Dogs, and How it Affects Training…

Some people still believe in the old Alpha/Dominance ideas of dog training, and why not we see it on TV, and we have been using it for the last 40-50 years, right? Well there is a new idea in the research of dog intelligence that might just make these methods really easy to debunk… As many of you know I am definitely a positive reinforcement trainer I don’t believe in heavy handed treatment/or shock collars for training dogs and it appears there might just be scientific proof to back up my ideas…
Psychologist and leading canine researcher Stanley Coren, PhDhas stated, that according to several behavioral measures, dogs’ mental abilities are close to a human child age 2 to 2.5 years.
The intelligence of various types of dogs does differ and the dog’s breed determines some of these differences, There are three types of dog intelligence: instinctive (what the dog is bred to do), adaptive (how well the dog learns from its environment to solve problems) and working and obedience (the equivalent of ‘school learning’).
Well if research it telling us that a dogs intelligence is similar to that of a preverbal human toddler I think that definitely points us into a different way of thinking about dogs and dog training… Let’s just take a look at several examples and see just how this idea holds up.
·         My dog pees or poops on the carpet, so I rub his nose in it and tell him/her they are a bad dog and throw them outside…
·         My dog growls at the neighbor, so I grab him/her by the scruff of the neck and pin them to the ground until they submit and then let them up…
·         My dog won’t come back to me when I call him/her so I buy a shock collar and shock the dog to get its attention when they ignore me…
·         My dog barks too much so I bought a bark collar that shocks them every time they bark so that they understand it is not appropriate to bark…
Ok now change dog with 2.5 year old child… Would you use these methods with a child? Look I don’t want to get over dramatic here but for years I have told folks that my litmus test for dog training methods is simple ask yourself if you would do the same to a small child. If the answer is no then you should probably not be doing it to your dog. Will these methods work? Have they worked and are they still being used? Sure they are but that really is not the question I am posing to you… Rather I am asking you what method you want to use.
All I want this article to accomplish is simple I want everyone reading these words to remember to ask questions when they choose their dog trainer. Don’t assume that the first trainer you talk to is the right one for you! I tell everyone I talk to that they need to contact at least three trainers and that the final choice should be to pick the trainer that they “Jive” with the best. If you don’t like or accept the way the trainer, trains dogs, then buying into the training is gonna be tough, if not impossible… So the moral of the story is simple, just how do you want to train your dog? The choice is up to you and you only!

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