The Culture Clash Paperback – 31 Dec 1996
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Describes ways to help rehabilitate aggressive behavior in dogs, using food and other reinforcers.
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To put this into perspective, our dog has previously attended a dominance paradigm based training school, which definitely got results - HOWEVER - the results were short term only (one would not have lasting improvements in behaviour in spite of following all the rules, not unless one went back for some 'rough treatment' by the trainers regularly) and required punishment type training. What had me nervous from the start of that approach was the assertion that the dog's tail needs to be down, not up. Be that as it may, a proficient 'dominance theorist' dogtrainer will likely bring about an obedient and relatively well adjusted dog, however as an amateur this approach is both relatively difficult, as well as stressful on the animal - no matter that the dog always went through narrow spaces last, ate last and we adhered to every single aspect of dominance based theory, behaviour did not improve, it just slid further back into the pre-training mode.
Donaldson takes the opposing view of analysing a dog's learning process and then working with the results of behavioral science in direct / operant conditioning, using primarily reinforcement for behaviour shaping.
While we previously managed to get reliable responses to simple (and useless) commands such as sit and stay using the dominance approach, we only managed to get the more complex stuff such as reliable object retrieval and recall with an approach based on the techniques described in this book. It shows you how doing what naturally feels right (i.e. not treating the dog roughly to educate it) can produce results, without falling into the antropomorphic trap of treating dogs like other humans and attributing human emotions (revenge, obstinacy, guilt) to them.
On top of that the book is very well written, with the right dose of humour, easily readable and full of very practical advice on specific games to play and approaches to use to reinforce a certain wanted behaviour. I can recommend it very warmly, in my opinion this is definitely one of the must have books for dog owners and in a totally different quality league from something marketing (look at me) oriented such as Milan's Cesar's Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems, where I struggled to find anything but the most basic advice on dog training and behaviour (but there is plenty on the childhood of Milan).
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