Shelby Marlo's Training Philosophy

The world of dog training somewhat parallels the world of child rearing. For years, children were raised with the Victorian mindset of "spare the rod, spoil the child." Then, in the 1960s, philosophies on raising children moved toward "spoil the rod, spare the child." It was thought that we should not reprimand children. Instead, we should let them be themselves. Child-rearing theories have swung from one extreme to the other and are now searching for a middle ground.

lotte The dog world experienced an evolution similar to the one in child rearing. Formal dog training originated in the military. Armies trained their dogs with harsh and rigid techniques. As dog training became more mainstream and moved into homes, it was fashioned after militaristic training. If dog training was harsh, it was because of its origin, not because that type of severity is required to train a dog.

Behavioral science has revolutionized dog training. For the first time, we delve not only into how dogs think but also into how dogs learn. We finally have substance to draw from when shaping dog training. We no longer have to think that strict domination of the dog is the only way to get compliance from him. Behaviorists study how dogs interrelate and respond to others in their environment. Research has found that dogs' actions directly relate to what is important to them. Pack and rank are at the top of the list. The second part, animal-learning theory, looks at how dogs learn, which is primarily via responses conditioned through positive and negative reinforcement.

The combination of understanding dog behavior and animal-learning theory headed a new movement in training. Theoretically, we should train motivationally, rewarding proper behavior and, in many cases, ignoring bad behavior. Some trainers have interpreted this to mean you should never do anything negative to the dog. It's imperative to find a happy medium between the two in the same way people raising children today seek to find a balance between the two very different methodologies.

Copyright 2000-2011 Shelby Marlo