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pro-punishment, pro-dominance theory = very disappointing
on 23 November 2015
This book is a mishmash of 1) an excellent summary of existing research into canine behaviour (some of which makes very painful reading, due to the suffering of the dogs involved in experiments) AND 2) a misguided interpretation of this in terms of outdated thinking - including dominance theory, dominance aggression, and the necessity of using punishment in some cases.
Whilst it is laudable to have a summary of existing literature, it is potentially very damaging and misleading to move glibly from a factual account of the literature into an interpretation of it, when the interpretation of it is based on such an outdated and disproved (in fact, never proven) theory - as dominance theory is.
Here are some quotes: "If a dog is not suitably impressed by its master's training abilities and intelligence as a leader....".
"Such dominant puppies respond to their owners provocative discipline efforts as challenges and react competitively"
On the subject of playing tug with puppies: "It is important to remember in all cases involving competition: only near equals compete." (!!) And: "Hard agitational tug games not only develop aggressive readiness and confidence, they also encourage puppies to bite hard and to struggle with a human opponent"(!!!!!).
Frankly, I can deal with texts which are not based in science and research coming up with dominance theory rubbish, because, well, clearly they are not founded in science. But to read a text which purports to be such a comprehensive summary of scientific research which also seamlessly moves into unfounded and irrational claptrap is very misleading and misguiding to behaviourists in training who may (and frequently are) recommended to read this book.
Furthermore, Lindsay is not reward-based, positive, force-free or similar: He is a "balanced" trainer and he advocates the use of punishment, including quite punitive time-outs in closed rooms until a dog is quiet, leash corrections, and seems receptive to the idea of ecollars. Anything beneficial gained from having such a substantial review of literature is quite undermined by someone with his authority promoting these harmful methods of training - which are unnecessary and have huge fall-out.
All in all, very disappointing. If only all Steven Lindsay's opinions were left out of this text and he let the science speak for itself...