Responding to your questions about the dog training crisis.

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24 Comments on “Responding to your questions about the dog training crisis.”

  1. I have NEVER been more excited to watch a 3 hour video. I almost leapt out of my seat! Keep making your voices shine, for all of us who don’t have the platform- I want to be heard.

  2. Zak, keep up the positive teaching to pup parents. You are amazing and the fact that you are science based in your strategies makes for sound learning for us.

    We look to you and trust you for guidance because your dedication to compassion in teaching our pups carries into how we need to treat our fellow residents on this planet.

    1. Unfortunately, Zak only uses a “the science” mantra and saying “Learning Theory” while never even mentioning which branch of learning theory herefers to…he seems to not even know there are branches, and he offers ZERO evidence from any learning theory that shows his claims about learning theory, to be true. He only hand waves. Here is something from Behaviorism, which is the branch I suppose he intends to refer to: “Operant Conditioning
      Operant conditioning, sometimes referred to as instrumental conditioning, is a method of learning that occurs through reinforcement and punishment. Through operant conditioning, an association is made between a behavior and a consequence for that behavior.

      This behavioral approach says that when a desirable result follows an action, the behavior becomes more likely to happen again in the future. Conversely, responses followed by adverse outcomes become less likely to reoccur.9

      Consequences Affect Learning
      Behaviorist B.F. Skinner described operant conditioning as the process in which learning can occur through reinforcement and punishment.9 More specifically: By forming an association between a certain behavior and the consequences of that behavior, you learn.

      For example, if a parent rewards their child with praise every time they pick up their toys, the desired behavior is consistently reinforced and the child will become more likely to clean up messes.”
      See that?” PUNISHMENT.
      Zak is not giving straight goods with evidence. He’s hand waving for his stance, which is fine..but he’s not doing what he claims over and over to be doing.
      And he uses aversives himself.How else would a puppy understand “no” if not taught as an adverse reaction?

  3. I think it is so hard for people to acknowledge where they might need to learn and grow and ultimately change, a lot of these trainers grew up with those tools, and everyone they trained with used those tools, and now it is hard for them to reevaluate their methods. We owe dogs better than forcing through fear of physical punishment. Zak, thank you for all you do to call attention to this issue and for not saying you know it all. No one knows it all, but there are methods that work and those that don’t. Ultimately aversives don’t work to foster love and trust between owner and dog.

    1. You’re overlooking Zak’s actual claims regarding aversives, which go far beyond physical punishment into such items as hiding the treat, which Zak admits is an aversive that he’s been using and you can see him do it. Then he goes into “mild” aversives and claims he’s not targeting those, while he’s still repeating the generalized spiel against aversives. Saying “No” is an aversive as well.
      Zak , when pressed about the slanted studies he presented (they are slanted as evidence for his claims because they contained data on tortures, not training),he says forget studies, LEARNING THEORY is his evidence…but he gives us nothing from Learning Theory to support his claims, not even which branch of Learning Theory he is talking about.

  4. Personal opinion. Cesar Milan has done more harm to dogs than good and for this reason. Taking an aggressive dog or a dog that has serious behavior issues and forcing submission through alpha rolls and other physical domination techniques plays well on TV. It makes him and others like him look “good”. But it does not take into account the long-term welfare of the dog. It shouldn’t be about the trainer trying to make themselves look like the smartest person in the room by any means necessary.

  5. I love what you are doing with your knowledge and platform. Keep it up! I think what is missing in the dog training industry are people who can guide through the crossover. To actually teach the differences to people used to old school methods.

  6. Dr. Ian Dunbar is now training Veterinarians at their seminars and conferences. I watch Susan Garrett, Kikopup, and Victoria Stilwell. I am a professional trainer. I studied under Pat Miller. Hope you know them.

  7. I recently stepped outside of my comfort zone fostering and training a severely abused female hound mix that to be afraid of men. She has a lot of scars and she is scared sh!tless. I started with my version of the trust technique and within the first day I earned her first shy tail wagging and I used only positive training since then.
    Once again I have learned that the ability to read and understand the dog together with positive rewards based training is the key to positive results. Love and respect the dog. Aggression is always a reaction to something that stresses the dog beyond its breaking point. Acting aggressively will always lead to more aggressions.

    1. Awesome that you are fostering. I have fostered (and foster failed) with dogs that are terrified of humans. I have one little fellow who shakes uncontrollably when asked to sit. I can’t imagine how badly he was handled before he was rescued.

    2. @Hildi and Friends (Foster fails and tales) We have three foster failures. We rehabilitated all three with great success. But I am very partial and was dealing with Border Collies only.

  8. It is tough when the 4 quadrants of learning in dog training include positive punishment and negative punishment with scientific evidence as well. When the top trainers in the world have their schools built around opperant conditioning, it’s definitely an ongoing argument amongst the dog training community for sure. Thank you for putting in your time and effort into such a long video. This might be the longest you’ve ever done! Hopefully it sparks some good response videos as well to keep the discussion going.

  9. I just got my second dog, a ten week old spaniel mix, yesterday and I’ve learned a lot from watching your videos and very opening to continuing to learn. I didn’t always use the best techniques with my first dog and there are still a couple things we need to work on because of it.

  10. We were never fans of aversive methods to begin with, but when we were having a lot of issues with leash reactivity with our border collie, we hired a trainer to help, and he suggested a choke collar. Not only did it not help, it caused or bc at one point to turn around and attack me so bad that he bit off the top of my ear. we almost put him down after that. thankfully he’s still with us and responding way way way better to positive reinforcement.

  11. Can it be that many people are just lazy? Meaning, it’s a lot easier to use a choke collar and yank to discipline rather than remember to bring treats. Treat, treat, treat while walking and training your dog takes effort on the human part. But it’s sooo worth it in the long run! It makes for a much happier pup!

  12. Thank you for this live. The timing is amazing – I once again began a search for a trainer to help with my Gracie. All three trainers came by and met Gracie…..she’s a big, goofy 70lb Staffy mix that everyone loves, until they get her on a leash for a walk. Less than 10 feet walking, each trainer immediately said that a harness would not work for training. The first trainer said we could “try” a martingale collar but likely would need a prong collar. The other two trainers skipped the martingale and went straight to a prong collar approach. Needless to say, I thanked them and sent them on their way. Just because she’s strong doesn’t mean she needs to be physically punished to learn how to not pull on the leash. I’m going back through your videos and will dedicate myself to work with Gracie consistently. I’m still a little reticent to try to work with her dog reactiveness but I’m committed to giving her her best life.

  13. I’m still pretty new in this career as a dog trainer, 6 months or so that I got my certificate, but I’ve already witnessed, and it didn’t surprise me how quick it was, until I got one good example of bad techniques. They were my first client, who the previous trainer (who I know) recommended me as he didn’t have time to train their dogs anymore. So the owner called me to train their anxious dog, who had all sorts of behavioral problems, one of them being her extreme fear of noises, rain, thunder, fireworks. Ok. Then after two sessions the owner proceeds to casually tell me the previous trainer used not only cracker bombs to train some commands (like “home/place”) and stop barking. He had the owner install a pipe that went directly from their bedroom to the backyard where the cracker would smash on the ground and explode, also he literally used a fire extinguisher filled with water to stop excessive barking. And now they handed me an anxious, fearful dog, taking 20mg of fluoxetine which didn’t do much. I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know how to react, and how they couldn’t see the consequences. I haven’t managed to convince the owners to let go of the “leader pack” idea. I could not convince them that the use of fire extinguisher or the crackers were, maybe not the cause, but the worsening and persistence of her fears of noises. I was getting progress with a lot of aspects of the dog, especially the leash pulling. I have a very nice video when I went dogwalking her and getting her to not pull with some techniques, but it didn’t seem to convince them. I could tell they thought my work wasn’t “serious”. It’s not quick. There’s no easy quick fix. And I know that aversive techniques are a quick “fix” and it impresses people (also “good” for television shows, you know which). So it doesn’t surprise me. I still dogsit their dogs, but they can’t move on from aversive techniques. I don’t know how Dog Training will recover, if ever

  14. So grateful for this conversation and all that you do. The only people I listen to now on dog and cat training/treatment are you, Kikpup and Jackson Galaxy. I regret every single day listening to Cesar Milan and shudder hearing a Petsmart trainer telling me to spray my dog with water. Kindness is always the best answer with all species!

  15. I don’t know much about dog science, but I’m currently training my third dog using your videos and following your advice. Your methods work extremely well. I’m not particularly talented as a dog trainer, but with your help I have been successful three times now. I have enjoyed using respect and positive reinforcement with my dogs far more than outdated methods I had tried before I found you. They work much better, too. Two of my rescue dogs came from backgrounds that used negative training and it really showed in their anxious and fearful behaviors. After they watch your videos with me (literally) and we practiced, practiced, practiced they became calm and confident. I tell everyone I meet with a dog about your channel and books. If I see someone having trouble with their dog’s behavior I go right over and recommend you. I hope you don’t get too discouraged. The more educational videos you put out and the more people spread the word, the better things will be. You are doing a great service for dogs and their owners. I am one of your biggest fans and I can’t thank you enough.

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