I am amazed. Or dismayed.
Am I living in my own little fantasy bubble? Is there THAT MUCH rough handling/training going on out there? And I'm just oblivious? Maybe I don't see it because I don't WANT to see it. Denial is a fine thing.
Some of the folks who commented on yesterday's post expressed a preference for clicker training over physical (hands on-guiding-molding) training methods because they've seen so much horrible force-based training it had the effect of sending them in the opposite direction.
Well . . . okay . . . but if you're old enough to train a dog, aren't you old enough to control your temper? Or mature enough to understand that might doesn't equal right? If you're training a dog, you have a responsibility to do it without causing pain and fear.
Yeah, I KNOW some people don't get it. We've all seen examples in our own clubs and at trials. Sigh.
I suppose it would be hard to hurt a dog with a clicker unless you threw the clicker at him.
There are a lot of aspects of training/showing that people fail to consider that aren't even connected to your training method but play a huge part in its success: conditioning the dog (like Tammy mentioned) so he can safely, physically perform the job you're asking him to do; the handler's mental approach - are we having fun together or do I just want the title at any expense?; who gets the blame when things go badly in the ring - the handler or the dog?; can I accept that my universal worth as a person is not defined by a 30-second agility run or a Q in the obedience ring? There are lots more. Whether you train with a clicker or a choker is not going to resolve any of those. It's up to the handler, ultimately, to put the responsibility for the dog's success or failure on THEIR OWN shoulders and to chose to do so in a way that is, at minimum, pleasant and enjoyable for the dog.
Have we reached a point in the evolution of training that it is no longer in vogue to touch our dogs to help them learn? I'm glad there are so many training methods available and people can pick what suits them and their dog best. In the case of allergies or a physical disability that prevents the handler being able to bend, touch, position, etc., then a clicker is a great answer.
Clearly, not all dogs respond well to being physically positioned so it would be pointless to pursue that method of training unless you're just trying to do things the hard way. And not all dogs respond well to clickers (I know a few who are actively terrified of the sound) or not all handlers feel comfortable using one because they aren't confident in their ability to actually click when they should.
And great point about making sure your dog allows and welcomes your touch from the very start of your lives together - if there's ever an emergency, your dog will be used to being touched even if he is scared or hurt. A few years ago Phoenix chased a cat though a rotary hoe that was parked in a machine shed. The cat fit through the hoe just fine. Phoenix didn't. When he came out of the shed, I could see a long gash along his ribcage. He let me inspect the wounded area (touching), then we were off to the emergency vet (of course it happened on a Sunday afternoon) to get examined (more touching) and stitched up (under anesthesia) without a major freak-out, even though that HAD to hurt.
Last winter when Jamie was spending so much time at the vet, having test after test prior to his IBD diagnosis, the vets and techs all commented that even though he was scared, he was a very easy dog to work with because he was clearly used to being handled, unlike a lot of the dogs they treat.
I'm glad the jerk and yank days are behind us. I'm glad we have different training methods available today. No matter which method you choose, the best thing to remember is to lead by example.