Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"My Dog Loves His Prong Collar"

An awesome article from
8 Reasons It’s Better to Be a Dog Now than 25 Years Ago
Our response to some of the comments left on the article is below. One commenter made me ill when I read her input, "Personally, I love love love my prong. And so does my dog. When he sees it he wiggles. I train using tons of treats, and a well timed correction when necessary."
My response to her comment specifically is at the end.

"It surprises me that so many comments are in favor of punitive methods, especially on such an upbeat article such as this one...

One commenter questioned, "...but how do you proof a dog without using proper corrections?" - I think that question points towards the issue here: the level of education on operant conditioning is not to the caliber it should be.

Mark and reward training is not bribery; in fact, it is critical that every person using the clicker/marker understands that no food presents itself before the click/mark. Bribery is when the "deal" is placed up front. Reward is when the payment is a result of the learner's action/behavior.

We all work within the same operant conditioning grid - I think many trainers forget that. Those of us who choose to use the positive reinforcement/negative punishment side of the house rather than positive punishment/negative reinforcement have a better understanding of the psychological fallout from poor corrections, etc.

{Update: it might not even be the fact that we have a better understanding, but that we do not want to take the risk of them being in a stressed environment that we have control over.}

PS - a dog can be conditioned to wag his tail at the site of the prong collar because it means he gets to go outside. It is fact that an organism will endure something unpleasant to get to something more pleasant. The cue means go outside.

People who smoke grab their cigarettes before taking their dog out. If the dog wags his tail at the sight of the cigarettes, does that mean he likes cancer?"


  1. I agree. Jasmine would let us put anything on her as long as it meant going outside.