When the nice lady Muse that helps me write descends, she’s normally very friendly and quite amiable.  To just about everybody…But ocassionally, she’ll have a raging migraine, PMS, or her bunions will be bothering her.  Then, she provides me with ideas that rarely see the PUBLISH button activated here.  Mostly because I pass these pre-posts pass my designated Voice Of Reason, or VOR .  My VOR’s name is Kimberly, and while possessed of a sharp and subtle wit, she seems convicted to keep me out of trouble with certain corners of society.  Like the idea I developed about re-writing the Wizard of Oz using dog people that I know as the characters.  The Wicked Witch of the West was played by a certain famous Clicker Trainer (who shall remain nameless), and the Winged Monkeys were played by a bevy of the drones that follow her ideas with militancy.  It wasn’t meant to be mean, but it was wickedly funny, and I enjoyed writing it.  Kimberly would have burned my house down if I had published it.  She’s good for that…

But the following piece came together so quickly and fluidly, that it had to be written.  The situation reminded me of scene #5 from the classic Monty Python film, “The Holy Grail”.  Therein, Sir Bedemere has been approached rather boisterously by a gaggle of medievel villagers.  They have detained a young woman that they have accused of being a Witch.  (A fairly acceptable occurrance in those times.)

The Militant Witch Hunters…

Bedemeres first question to the haranguing mob is, “How Do You Know She’s a Witch?”

The response is both simple and profoundly revealing.  “She LOOKS like one!!”

The accused woman then pipes up and says, “I’m Not a Witch! I’m Not a Witch!” to which Bedemere responds,

“But You LOOK like a Witch…”

“THEY dressed me up like this!”  And the mob had indeed given her a pointed hat, and a long carrot as a nose, which was attached by a string around her head.  The script continues:

WITCH:  And this isn’t my nose, it’s a false one.
VILLAGER #1:  Well, we did do the nose.
 BEDEMERE:  The nose?
VILLAGER #1:  And the hat — but she is a witch!
CROWD:  Burn her!  Witch!  Witch!  Burn her!
 BEDEMERE:  Did you dress her up like this?
CROWD:  No, no… no … yes.  Yes, yes, a bit, a bit.
VILLAGER #1:  She has got a wart.
 BEDEMERE:  What makes you think she is a witch?
VILLAGER #3:  Well, she turned me into a newt.
 BEDEMERE:  A newt?
VILLAGER #3:  I got better.
VILLAGER #2:  Burn her anyway!
CROWD:  Burn!  Burn her!
 BEDEMERE:  Quiet, quiet.  Quiet!  There are ways of telling whether
she is a witch.
CROWD:  Are there?  What are they?
 BEDEMERE:  Tell me, what do you do with witches?
VILLAGER #2:  Burn!
CROWD:  Burn, burn them up!
 BEDEMERE:  And what do you burn apart from witches?
VILLAGER #1:  More witches!
VILLAGER #2:  Wood!
 BEDEMERE:  So, why do witches burn?
VILLAGER #3:  B–… ’cause they’re made of wood…?
CROWD:  Oh yeah, yeah…
 BEDEMERE:  So, how do we tell whether she is made of wood?
VILLAGER #1:  Build a bridge out of her.
 BEDEMERE:  Aah, but can you not also build bridges out of stone?
VILLAGER #2:  Oh, yeah.
 BEDEMERE:  Does wood sink in water?
VILLAGER #1:  No, no.
VILLAGER #2:  It floats!  It floats!
VILLAGER #1:  Throw her into the pond!
CROWD:  The pond!
 BEDEMERE:  What also floats in water?
VILLAGER #1:  Bread!
VILLAGER #2:  Apples!
VILLAGER #3:  Very small rocks!
VILLAGER #1:  Cider!
VILLAGER #2:  Great gravy!
VILLAGER #1:  Cherries!
VILLAGER #2:  Mud!
VILLAGER #3:  Churches — churches!
VILLAGER #2:  Lead — lead!
 ARTHUR:  A duck.
 CROWD:  Oooh.
 BEDEMERE:  Exactly!  So, logically…,
VILLAGER #1:  If… she.. weighs the same as a duck, she’s made of wood.
 BEDEMERE:  And therefore–?
VILLAGER #1:  A witch!
CROWD:  A witch!

“How Do You Know She’ a Wich?”

As silly and seriously funny as I find this interchange, and grand example of Circular Reasoning run amuck, it reminded me of a post I read by a Professional Clicker-Trainer not long ago…It was written by a young lady at the website, Dogington Post.  The article is no doubt the result of a fairly new and inexperienced trainer, that has been swept into the mob of Positive Trainers, and thoroughly drank the Kool-Aid that convinces them that “If you don’t Click, You make me Sick!”

Okay, the point is this. In the movie, the accused woman is a Witch, because the small but loud mob SAYS she’s a Witch.  They even go out of their way to put on garments and accessories that demonstrate she’s a witch.  This is what Positive/Operant Conditioning/Clicker trainers have done to EVERYBODY ELSE that doesn’t practice Pryorology.  We are BAD, and Old-Fashioned, or even cruel and brutal, because THEY say so!!  I’m going to list several quotes from the article below, as well as the link to the site, that demonstrates the attitude I’m pointing out.  “Your WRONG because WE say so!!”

“Why should old-fashioned trainers come to the positive side? Because positive training works!” –  Apparently NOTHING ELSE DOES…

“… it won’t deteriorate the human animal bond, it will not cause negative stress or physical pain to your dog through the use of force or pain, and it’s totally supported by science and the laws of learning just to add a few reasons.” – I’m weary of being told that I’m causing my dog pain or stress when we train using Relationship Training.  And, I’ll put our Human/Canine bond up against ANYTHING you can demonstrate!

This next quote demonstrates the addled thinking of the writer.  She’s actually making my point for me…and she doesn’t even know it. – “There’s always more than one way to reach the top of the mountain. Being closed-minded and adamant about what they don’t understand can create dogs that lose their homes and family and possibly their lives. Shouldn’t the goal be to help in any way possible that will aid the dog in its understanding of what the owner is looking for from that dog?

The next quote is more of the same…- “Is it not our role as the allegedly intelligent species to understand our dogs and find a way that works for them rather than forcing them into a one-size-fits-all mold. (You mean like Militant Clicker Training?) When you’re forced to do something, do you enjoy it? Of course not, so why should dogs enjoy being pushed into downs and manipulated into sits, jerked by the neck in the name of training? ( You assume that non-clicker users hurt their dog to achieve obedience!  And you are WRONG.) 

“How Do You Know He’s Cruel and Mean to his Dog??”

“Because we say so, and the Laws of Learning and Science prove it!”

I’ll allow you the chance to read the rest of Ms. Sarasin’ post.  It goes off on a directionless path that merely mirrors what certain Trainers TELL her is true.  There is no accounting for the uniqueness of each dog.  No opportunity to learn about the individual mind in that single dog, and shaping a training program suited ideally to that dog.

Thankfully, many of us are seeing beyond Positive Training/Clicker Training zeitgeist, and incorporating them into something even better.  Aiming at developing a Relationship within the Canine/Human team.  Yes, We ARE positive trainers, we do NOT hurt our dogs, we do not stress them.  That’s only been the rumor because They have said it’s true.  Look beyond the methods and build something WITH your dog that fulfills his needs as a dog.  He doesn’t care about the science.



  1. Rebecca says:

    Despite protestations to the contrary, for this author, there is only one way to climb the mountain.

    I recently found your blog and have been enjoying it thoroughly. Sure, I can teach my dog to be a good little robot, but I’m looking for something deeper and infinitely more enjoyable. I’ve been using the Communicative Approach for years without knowing rightly what to call it.

    • Robert says:

      Thank you Rebecca!! This approach has been teaching ME so much…I’m currently working on a post that has really made me know that I’m not working on something without precedent…The word of the day will be “Cynopraxis”…I’ll look forward to your thoughts!!!! Robert

  2. Kim Atwell says:

    Yep, I just keep my methods to myself anymore. I’d hate for someone to think I ‘abused’ my dog because he is so stubborn that I have to tug his scruff or tap his neck to get his attention…. Fair points, Robert! And well done. 🙂