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Too much science and not enough action?


Dog trainers current on modern training methods make a big deal of science; it’s really important. The laws of learning state that such and such will result in such and such; rewards will tend to increase a certain behavior; punishments will tend to decrease a behavior; there are primary and secondary reinforcers; operant conditioning will always have a classical conditioning tagalong, etc. This kind of stuff is interesting to read and of course, really, really important. I’m definitely not suggesting that people should ignore the science behind dog training: in fact, it’s one of the first things you should start to wrap your mind around, if possible.


But what I am suggesting is that science, knowledge, and understanding of dog behavior and training theory by itself are not going to make you a good dog trainer. It’s definitely part of it, but just reading, understanding and theorizing are not enough. Along with the theory and knowledge, you also need some good, old-fashioned, hands-dirtying, sweaty WORK. As in, hours. Hours spent actually working with dogs and actually achieving training goals. Hours spent messing up, training things you don’t want and then having to un-train them, training things that you’ll later find will interfere with other things you want to train. The 10,0000 hours to mastery…is really a thing. This is where you’ll find out that you don’t actually have the perfect sense of timing that you know from the books is so important. This is where you find out what “consistency” actually means. But it’s also where you develop that perfect sense of timing. It’s where you develop the discipline and habit to be consistent. It’s where you gain a better understanding of all your theory and knowledge, because you see it happening and working right before your eyes.


If you’re interested in dog training, then yes; read about dogs, watch the videos and go to the seminars. But if you find that you’re on Facebook talking about the pros and cons of various techniques and methods, rather than actually out and about and DOING the various techniques and methods, stop and get up, put your shoes on, get your dog, and go do it.


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