I don’t know how many times I started writing a post about all the debates surrounding this whole positive vs dominance or negative reinforcement, behavior modification training. Right of the bat let me tell you that positive reinforcement will accomplish the behavior goals you are seeking the vast majority of time. It’s a small percentage of the dogs out there, that have to be educated… ahh, lets say a different way. I feel I should remind you that even though it’s a small percentage of dogs that need some type of negative reinforcement to modify those undesirable behaviors, we’re still taking about millions of dogs every year. Oddly enough that kind of coincides with the millions of dogs being euthanized every year, in animal shelters or at the dog owners veterinary clinic.
We have here at spirit animal sanctuary about 90 dogs, and even these guys who were suppose to be the worst of the worst, behaviorally wise anyway, you know for biting, fear aggression, human aggression, animal aggression and food aggression ( yea, I don’t say, “resource guarding” for toys, treats, bones or food). Even these dogs responded positively to my positive reinforcement techniques, most of them anyway, some of them I had to get the message across by acting more like the big bad wolf.
Positive reinforcement works almost all of the time, but almost, is not good enough when a dogs life is at stake.
Alright I’ve kept you wondering long enough about the title of this post, well here it is. The book is called, ” Domestic animal behavior for veterinarians and animal scientists ” By Katherine A. Houpt, VMD, PhD, Professor of physiology and director of the Animal Behavior Clinic, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in addition to being a diplomate of the American College of Veterinarian Behaviorists. ©2005 Blackwell Publishing.
In Chapter 1, page 20 under behavior problems excessive barking in the second paragraph, Ms. Houpt in her book mentions a couple of positive reinforcement methods that may help alleviate the dogs barking before going onto a more adverse or negative methods, when the positive approach doesn’t have the desired results.
She mentions trying a water gun or lemon juice squirted in the dog’s mouth, before talking about a citronella collar and finally an electric (no bark) shock collar. And finally she mentions as a last resort, a cordectomy (debarking).
So you see, even one of the most respected animal behaviorist on the planet, is essentially telling you that sometimes you need a little something more than positive reinforcement to stop unwanted dog behaviors.
You can read it for yourself at this link. http://books.google.com/books?id=ZFQAs8Ag1zoC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_navlinks_s#v=onepage&q&f=false
The Spirit Dog© copyright 2010 a.s.papszycki