Training vs. 'Counter-conditioning' and 'Redirecting'
IMO, good behavioral dog training is about teaching your dog the rules and boundaries allowable in a human world. So, I train dogs to control their reactions to certain things in a way that is acceptable to me and not harmful or dangerous to them or others.
The dogs are not required to be ‘friendly’ … so normally on a walk or out and about, I do not invite or allow strangers to pet or feed them. The dogs are simply required to leave strangers alone – something very natural for a balanced dog.
The dogs are not required to ‘avoid’ or ‘ignore’ squirrels, birds, other dogs, etc. Instead the dogs are taught that those things are to be tolerated and not hunted or attacked without my explicit command or permission (which most likely never comes). This is easy when I am the leader, and the dogs have learned that their role is to be followers. Peaceful coexistence is natural for balanced dogs.
The dogs are not required to be outgoing and overtly friendly to strangers who come to my house. Instead the dogs are taught that visitors to my house are MY visitors and that they must leave visitors alone unless explicitly commanded to do otherwise. Balanced dogs understand that happiness and wellbeing depend on being peaceful and cooperative.
So much of ‘modern methods’ are geared towards ‘counter-conditioning’ or ‘redirecting’ the dog away from natural behavior. IMO, this is a faulty approach, and dogs neither learn nor teach other dogs that way.
I think a better approach is to respect the dogs’ nature and teach them to control it in an acceptable, logical, and safe way.
After all, I like dogs and want them to be happy and well-balanced; I want them to be dogs.
Who you are to your dog is everything …
~ Jun 17, 2013