Precision Dogs...Uncompromising Excellence
BOOKS & VIDEOSBooks_and_Videos.html
DEMO VIDEOSDemonstration_Videos.html
AVAILABLE DOGSAvailable_Dogs.html
 VIEW TRAINEESTrainees.html
MEDIA ARTICLESMedia_Articles_%26_Reviews.html
ARSON DOGSArson_Dogs.html

The Province

by  Stuart Derdeyn

Guide Builds On Mutual Respect

The world is full of dog owners full of advice on the best training methods to get results with your animal.  Shelters and rescue organizations are overflowing with failed examples of such “expert” handiwork.

Anyone who has adopted an animal victim of improperly applied, Alpha-dominant, coercive schooling methods knows just how much more work it takes to bring a beast back into line with being a happy, positive community member.

In his illuminating new training guide titled Let The Dog Decide, author Dale Stavroff outlines a 15-minute-a-day program designed to build a mutually respectful relationship with person and pooch.

“We’ve been in the classical conditioning phase of training for so long that it’s totally pervasive in society and almost impossible to avoid,” says Stavroff.  “If you run into someone who is a positive motivation type of trainer, you’re lucky because you wind up with this entirely different approach to training and you see the difference.”

“Underlying everything in his book is that we’re the ones with the leads in our hands and therefore in control.  We’ve been through classical conditioning in school - we perpetuate it at all levels, including our animals.”

“We’re taught to sit, be quiet, pay attention and so on and expect the same from our dogs.  It’s always about what the dog did in terms of final action, skipping the reactions it had on the way in terms of mood.  What I try to do is create the proper mood in my dog, which makes the dog happy and reinforces both a positive mood and results.”

From Red Hot Chili Peppers’ singer Anthony Kiedis’ family pet to the search-and-rescue/tracking animals he trains for the RCMP, Stavroff has observed what works and what doesn’t and developed a series of very simple-to-follow “habits” to bring to training.

Many are based on building benevolent eye contact and proper body language to make your hyper-observant canine read your intentions.  Methods are tweaked depending on breed and character.

“Every approach we take has an up and down side, always.  When we use operant conditioning with a clicker, for example, we empower the dog.  That can be a bad thing if you’ve got a high-status, nastily disposed Rottweiler.  I wouldn’t suggest that.  Other things work better.”

Begin with choosing the right breed at the onset.  Chapter 3 of the book hammers this point home and throughout the book he won’t let it go, because you’ve got to know what you’re getting into and be prepared to deal with the dog.  And Stavroff doesn’t buy the oft-said “there are no bad dogs, just owners” argument.

“People research cars in depth and that makes sense because it’s such a serious investment.  Then these same people will go out and spontaneously grab a dog that has a history thousands of years old of being bred to attack humans and it’s just not true that an animal predisposed to bite genetically just won’t.  I like to use the example that I’ve never heard of a roving gang of Irish Setters attacking people, but other breeds...”

Last year in the United States, there were approximately five million reported dog bites.  That means there were probably around 20 million or so that went unreported.  Not good.

So what is it about the methods in Let The Dog Decide that makes them work so well?  First and foremost, because they are easily outlined and explained.  Therefore, they’re easy to try at home.

I’ve been having a great deal of trouble getting Stella to go “Down,” and I can hear the chorus of agreement in the other owners.  Using Stavroff’s eye-contact and reward style, she’ll drop to the floor nine times out of 10 now because she knows it’s worth it.  Hurrah!

Media Articles and Reviews