If you’ve seen this movie you will most likely remember the part where the mom, dad and aunt are siting at a booth talking about Tula’s future. Check out the sixth minute of this video and you’ll see how it unfolds…
How does this connect with dog training?
Think of the last time you needed your dog to drop something. Did you try to force it out of his mouth? What if you waved a really tasty treat in front of his nose? Would your dog think of dropping the object all on his own in order to eat the treat? What about when you stand in front of your dog with something he likes? Will he think of sitting all on his own? Your dog starts to do what you want voluntarily, not because you forced him to. This is the beauty of positive training: learning.
In education the goal is understanding rather than memorization. Once you understand a concept it becomes very hard to forget how two plus one equals three. On the other hand if you have to memorize that these two specific numbers added to each other equaled another number, but not if they are subtracted or multiplied it becomes a lot more difficult. In Suzanne Clothier’s words:
“In any training situation (in fact, in any relationship) gaining voluntary cooperation neatly sidesteps challenges to status. If the queen of England agrees to play checkers with you, her agreement makes status unimportant. But if you’re going to try and force the queen of England to play with you, you’d best be someone she takes directives from with a smile.” Bones Would Rain From the Sky pg. 172.
If you had something in your hands and someone pulled it out of your hand’s you would probably feel just as degraded as your dog does when you pull that tennis ball out of their mouth. But when we take out the status and show dogs that it can be an enjoyable experience, that they thought of all on their own, they can learn what you are saying when you say ‘drop it.’ All of a sudden those specific words have meaning! The light bulb goes off and your dog starts to learn to think!