Posted : 5/13/2007 9:09:59 AM
I would say that CM, at least in the time allotted in the show, doesn't present a clear definition or understanding of +R.
The most prime example is the episode where the dog is reactive when being given a bath. Knowing what I know now, the proper way is to slowly introduce the dog to the scene, giving treats for good behavior at each opportunity. And to realize that you may not give them a bath that day. And it's probably doubtful that anyone has put the dog through a structured +R training, at all. Slowly introduce the running water and let him relax, and give a treat. Essentially, closing the distance on the stimulus, just as if the water were other dogs he might react to.
In the episode, he gives a treat to lead the dog into the bathtub, calling that positive reinforcement, without really explaining the process. Then he turns on the water and the dog freaks and he scruffs him and a small struggle ensues. The dog was reacting normally, though it wasn't convenient for CM. On the plus side, the DW show constantly suggests finding a trainer in your area.
IMO, a trainer with a marker of some sort is truly whispering to the dog by being able to precisely mark the desired behavior and making that rewarding, giving the dog a "direction" to go forward to (sorry for the dangling participle).
On the plus side,the show raises the public's awareness of the need for training. It shows that 99 percent of the problem is human error. And, in recent episodes, the clients are shown as understanding that while they have been given a few pointers, the actual training and rehab process will take a while.
I also understand something else, now. While wolf pack models are accurate and feral dogs exhibit all those behaviors, wolf pack dynamics are not always applicable to human-dog relationships. For example, owning the space works at the time, but not always. In a wolf, it is the same and the alpha must continually assert dominance or, most of the time, pack members continually offer submission. In the human-dog scenario, it is more effective and managable to have the dog always follow the human because it should be more rewarding than the dog assuming control. That is, if you act like a dog, your dog will treat you like one. Which means you could expect challenges in the future, just like in the wild. Better to act like a human.
Another thing I've always disagreed on with the show, regardless of training tactics, is that not every dog should be saved. There are some that might not ever respond to standard training or +R. All they learned was a distrust of humans. With limited resources, perhaps the lost causes should be pts, leaving time and energy for the sweet-tempered dogs that require very easy training but get pts because they ran out of time.