Equipment Bias and My Preferences

Wade and mentor and friend Ted Efthymiadis

Everybody has their biases in life. In the dog training world, many people not only onto their biases but they’ll defend them to the death.

I can’t understand why anybody holds onto things that tightly. I’m talking beyond just training modalities.

Many trainers are quick to not only tell you how great their approach is but they’ll also include a list of modalities, techniques and methods that they believe to violet some deep code of ethics they have about dogs or dog training.

People who train with the dominance modality often will hang trainers out to dry who use food saying it’s bribery and you’re basically paying your dog for something he should be doing naturally.

The opposite group will often throw around emotionally loaded words like cruel and inhumane in response to applying any type of corrective or even educational pressure to dogs. In their mind, there’s no difference between 1lbs of leash pressure and 40lbs.

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I believe in a middle path to dog training. Especially when it comes to using a form of pressure that is not food or resource based. Many people have a mental image about punishments and corrections, in that, they have to be harsh or overly firm.

Likewise with tools, everybody has the tools they prefer and the ones they don’t.

I personally use a lot of remote training collars in my programs. These tools have the capacity to be incredibly gentle and versatile if used right. Many people pair the idea of electricity in a training collar and automatically think that it’s a shock collar, but nothing could be further than the truth.

I also use some food in training but not always. This depends heavily on the dog I’m training and the problems the dog needs to overcome.

I tend to favour dynamic collars such as martingales, slip collars, chain collars and prong collars. I’d also add the caveat that my goal with these collars is not to make things painful but to allow me to use less pressure on the dog.

Equipment I tend to avoid includes harnesses (unless I desire to encourage pulling such as weight pull, skijoring or other pull-driven activity), no pull harnesses and clickers (I prefer the use of verbal markers rather than mechanical markers in most cases).

The bottom line is I’d really like to see a little more understanding and compassion within the dog training world. Rather than insulting people because of their choice to train, I’d love to see more people ask why and perhaps act with curiosity. I’ve had many trainers assume because I use some tools that can be considered aversive in nature because I had no real handling skill. Anybody who’s ever seen me work a dog on a prong collar can tell you otherwise.

We don’t need more reasons to distance ourselves from each other. There’s enough of that out there already.

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