Editors Note: The part of Dr. Strangelove and the Military personnel are played by the Purely Positive contingent of the dog-training world. They have managed to launch an assault on the profession of training dogs that needs to be confronted by reason and eliminated by solid evidence.
I doubt that director Stanley Kubrick ever intended for his 1964 film to be used in reference to the world of dog-training, but in the chaotic, esoteric, world that is my brain, it just seems to fit. Follow me here for just a few paragraphs and you’ll see why…
Perhaps a brief synopsis of the classic, dark comedy is in order: The story concerns an unhinged United States Air Force general who orders a first strike nuclear attack on the Soviet Union. It follows the President of the United States, his advisers, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and a Royal Air Force (RAF) officer as they try to recall the bombers to prevent a nuclear apocalypse. It separately follows the crew of one B-52 bomber as they try to deliver their payload. (end quote. Now it’s my turn) There are mad scientists, crazy Military leaders, oddball plans of eugenics, and Slim Pickens all rolled together in a bouillabaisse of leftists, rightists, and fear-mongering. (Partial Wikipedia quote). The film ends with scenes of nuclear blasts going off all over the former Soviet Union and worldwide. Not a good ending for anybody. It really centers around the radical ideas of a small group that are determined to get what they want, and are willing to do anything to see that the majority accept it, and jump into lock step with the minority.
What does that have to do with Dog-Training, you may well ask? Here we go:
Back in the mid 20th century, Psychologist B.F. Skinner came up with Operant/Classical Conditioning. Pavlov also experimented with making dogs drool by conditioning them to the dinner bell. The theory developed and was later taken up by “behaviorist” and other latter day “trainers” of dogs, such Karen Pryor of “Don’t Shoot The Dog” fame. Thus was conceived and born “clicker-based/non-aversive” training, used at first with ocean born, captive kept, mammals. Dolphins and Orca’s, not to put too fine a point on it. These creatures are large and powerful, and well beyond the puny human attempts to train with compulsion. Therefore, a different method was needed. Behavior marking and reward based training took hold, and produced good results. Like Dr. Strangeloves “Doomsday device”, it seemed like an idea with widespread merit for everyone involved. And operant conditioning, and marker training are indeed effective methods, but like Strangeloves device, designed to prevent holocaust, radical activists took hold of the idea and made it something dangerous, and ultimately harmful. From the early Operant Conditioning, Clicker training, Marker-training practitioners, (all methods having their merits) was born the radical, and poorly conceived idea of Purely Positive Training for dogs. No Discipline, No Correction, no “NO”. Ever. Propelled by political correctness, and a generation of human children that were raised without the evil of discipline from permissive hippie parents, The Purely Positive ideology infiltrated the dog-training industry. Left unchecked and without proper peer review, The Purely Positive movement began to blossom into fruition. And like the military men in Kubricks film, there has been a “scorched-earth” policy with this small but loud-mouthed group. The canine equivalent of Strangeloves Doomsday Device, was launched and given code “Green” status by the “Purely Positive” command structure. It was time for anyone that dared pop a leash, trained with any aversives, snapped on a training collar, or activated an e-collar, be destroyed in reputation and driven from dog training with their cruel behind them. The first target was the “Dog-Whisperer”, Cesar Millan. The small, minority went after him with every trick in the book, with a vengeance. Whether or not you like Millan, the attacks on his program were way over the top. Protests were planned at personal appearances, video was taken out of context, websites and facebook pages under such sobriquet as “Beyond Cesar Millan” sprang up out of the ooze of cyberspace like foot fungus. Millan was a highly visible individual, and he ignored the prattling of those aligned against him. Still, mention his name online in any positive manner, and you will be assaulted almost immediately. The PP world simply loathes Mr. Alpha Roll and will stop at nothing to destroy him. Nothing. I can see Karen Pryor riding a ballistic missile aimed at Millans compound, clicker in hand all the way to ground zero.
Next the Purely Positive drones began to go after training collars of different calibers. Training collars, prong collars, and most sinister of all, the Electronic Collar. Or as they say in the parlance of Pure Positive, the SHOCK Collar, which brings to mind torture devices of the Third Reich. Recently, the country of Wales succeeded in Banning outright, the use of this humane and highly useful tool. They are also attempting to ban prong or “Pinch” collars around the globe, and in a country near YOU. Political Correctness has also managed to remove the use of the hand held whips, or schlagestock in IPO competition. The device is used to turn the dog on in “Drive” by making sound. Rarely is the tool used to actually strike a dog, but rather uses the sound to do the work. Yet, political correctness has made them an object of ridicule. The Purely Positive coven rejoices with these victories. and that is why they must be confronted. They won’t stop until we are all clicking at dogs ala Petsmart training methods. Imagine trying to train a Police Service K-9 with a clicker and a pouch full of treats. It cannot be done.
Correction MUST have a place in the training of dogs, much the same as human children. In some disciplines, these corrections may be a bit more pronounced. But they produce a dog that does a very difficult and stressful job. They reinforce the dogs ability to protect and serve.
The Purely Positive drones must be taken out of the zeitgeist of dog- training. If they succeed in their quest to have ALL aversive correction removed or banned, we will all pay the price. Mostly, the dogs will pay the price in poor training, and being unacceptable in many homes due to unchanged behaviors for the sake of ZERO discipline, Zero Correction.
You see, Correction IS the BOMB. Those who would ban it outright are overlooking what’s best for dog, and what appeals to their own permissive thinking. Leadership, Correction, and Discipline are REQUIRED in any training regimen for true success. A dog cannot be FULLY trained by waiting for a miracle to happen that you can click into its memory. A dog cannot be clicked into a behavior such as Attack or Protection when their drive is fully in action. So, you proponents of Purely Positive, or Banning Useful Training Tools, put away your slings and arrows and crawl back into the dank holes you slithered out of. You may not like other methodology that goes against the grain of permissiveness, but in some cases, it may be protecting you. Leave our ability to make training effective and provable. The dogs will thank you, the owners will thank you, and you won’t have to spend your valuable time skulking around Cesars Facebook page everyday.
Correction is here to stay, whatever may be launched against it. When done properly, it produces results and success. When it crosses into abuse, the consumer will make the call. The BOMB is correction, correction is the key to training, and training is the key to properly behaving dogs. Come out of the fantasy world of Purely Positive, and learn to love the Bomb…