Longtime syndicated columnist and dog writer Steve Dale recently published a new eBook through Tribune Media Services — Good Dog. Since I don’t have a Kindle, I’ve not had the chance to read it. However, when I asked Dale about the history of dog training — going back to before I was born — he shared some interesting insights.
You see, I knew that the dominance / punishment style of dog training that I loathe really took hold back in the 1960s. What I did NOT know is that positive reinforcement practitioners were also on the scene back then.
“I recalled reading William Koehler’s 1962 seminal ‘The Koehler Method of Dog Training.’ In its day – given what was known then – I can understand how this book was considered a breakthrough. But that was then, and this is now.”
” … Dr. R. K. Anderson came along and began to use positive reinforcement at around the time Koehler’s book was enormously popular. Back in the day, Anderson was roundly criticized as a ‘cookie pusher.’ Anderson and an increasingly growing army of professionals leaned on science instead of force to teach dogs. ”
In explaining why he continues this tradition, Dale says:
“Telling a dog what not to do, in other words disciplining the dog, doesn’t work for three reasons. For one thing, rarely are any methods successful in actually successfully communicating exactly what it is you don’t want the dog to do. Harsh corrections can damage the relationship between family members and their dogs. Most of all – still, the beleaguered dog has no clue what you do want.”
Dale had a nice breakthrough moment when the Tribune eBook guru suggested GOOD DOG as the name of the book. He tells me:
“She said, ‘It seems so many focus on punishing dogs – you clearly respect and appreciate them – and also, you’re so positive and into rewarding dogs who know what they’ve done right.’ She also mentioned how important it is for me to communicate to the dogs. They can’t possibly comply if they have no idea what to do. I felt like professor Higgin in ‘My Fair Lady,’ — ‘I think she’s got it.’ If the eBook authority at TMS can get it, so can America.”
Let’s hope so because 50 years is a LONG time to keep banging the punishment drum. Don’t you think?
P.S. There is also one called GOOD CAT.