Are Force-Free Trainers Dog Abusers?

Do they really bribe their dogs?

Luring versus Rewarding:
Dale’s Full Video:

***In this video I make a comment about the use of English as a native language. Someone kindly brought it to my attention that it may sound as though I am criticizing dialect in general. I want to be clear that my comments were directed specifically at Dale’s misuse of English words (definitions), and not in any way a jab at anyone that speaks in differing dialects or languages. I love and support the diversity of languages, cultures, and people as individuals.

For those of you who have trainers encouraging you to use food rewards to train your dogs (if your dog is motivated by food) are leading you into modern methods that reinforce mutual relationships and better bond-building with your dog. They are not taking you down a path of bribery. We use food to lure dogs into a very specific position indicating the end behavior that we are looking for. We use it for encouragement when dogs are uncomfortable or need some help building confidence. We use food to reward behaviors that we wish to see repeated. We use it for enrichment activities. We do things that our dogs love (like giving them food) because we love our dogs and want them to be happy in the process too!

Food in training can most certainly be misused which can lead to problems such as your dog following cues only when you have a treat available versus a dog following cues whether the reward is present or not. This isn’t because you are using food, it’s because you haven’t transitioned your reward system appropriately and you’re likely not fading out your lures fast enough. If you are struggling with this – talk to your trainer or reach out to me for a virtual consultation on my website and I can help you get out of that loop.

I don’t typically address people like Dale who have this mindset as often one of three things are occurring:

  1. They are a friend, family member, or super fan of the person whose methods I find dangerous, and they are merely (blindly) defending that person
  2. They are looking for their own notoriety and are using my platform to gain attention and grow their “fame”
  3. They are old-school in their mindset and don’t believe in science-based methodology, rather, prefer hanging on to tradition, often due to a machismo personality.

Those that are open-minded and interested in learning (including people who completely disagree with me) open discussion without attacks and engage. I will happily and pleasantly engage with anyone that has an opposing view that also shares my passion for understanding other perspectives as we have some common ground to build from.

My completely assumptive guess regarding Dale here is that he isn’t concerned with what the dog wants or actually feels from an emotional perspective, landing him in category number three. I could be completely wrong but that’s my educated dart thrown at the psychology wall for now.

I decided to address this one simply for all of the pet parents out there that are exposed to foolish content such as this which causes them to pause as to whether what they are doing is right or whether they’ve been misguided.

An evidence-based approach to training and/or behavior modification isn’t someone’s opinion, it’s science. Lean on experts for your opinions on methodology such as researchers, board-certified veterinary behaviorists (that went to school and spent a ridiculous amount of money to gain the knowledge that they possess), scientists, and animal welfare experts. If what you are hearing or doing goes against what these highly-educated and experienced individuals are saying and doing, it’s time to take a look at your practices and decide if you are ready to evolve with modern, effective, methodology or remain stuck in archaic and outdated practices. You don’t have to take my word for it – there are much smarter people out there than me teaching the same about progression in relationship-building with canine companions.

Nom Nom Dog Jerky:
Embark DNA Kit for Your Dog:

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