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This was in the paper a few days ago...Parenting. I've taken out all the parent/child references and put in trainer/dog references.

Anything in {}s is my own addition and I edited a few sentences.


I just found it interesting. Keep in mind, however, that the article was not originally written with dog people in mind, so a few references may not come across the way it was originally intended.



Discipline is Leadership


The question journalists most frequently ask "Is there one question dog owners ask most frequently?" Actually, there is but its not a specific question; rather its a form of question that begins "What should I do when my dog....?" and closes with a description of a vexing behavior, as in "What should I do when my dog bites someone?"

The question reflects the contemporary belief that for any given problematicbehavior , there is one specific response or consequence that will bring about an end to the problem. This point of view holds that discipline, the correction of misbehavior, is accomplished via the clever manipulation of reward or punishment. Thus, today's dog owners are in constant search of "magic discipline bullets" that promise to finish off behavior problems. In an answer to the demand, parenting experts have come up with such magic methods as time out, 1-2-3, three strikes and your out, etc. {insert dog training methods here instead}.

There's no evidence, however, that this proliferation of ingenious techniques has made for more well behaved dogs. If the anecdotal record is any indication, today's dog owners are dealing with not only more behavior problems, but also more severe behavior problems than any generation of dog owners in history.

The problem is the point of view: the notion that discipline is a matter of the right application of consequences, or even the right application of consequences will finish off misbehavior. It's important to note that this is a new idea, a product of the psychological training revolution of the latter half of the 20th century, one result of which was the embrace of behavior modification techniques. Prior to this, dog owners intuitively understood that discipline is the process by which dog people turned a dog into a disciple, someone who will follow their lead. Discipline, therefore, is leadership, and the principles of effective leadership do not change from one leadership environment to another. In other words, the same principles that make for effective corporate or military leadership also make for effective dog leadership {not meaning violent or harsh}.

Good leadership is not about the proper use of various consequence-delivery systems. It consists of a positive guiding vision, decisiveness, self-confidence, and a commitment to help the animals one is leading bring out the very best in themselves.

Effective leaders are not defined by how eell they manipulate reward and punishment. They are defined by how well they communicate. In that regard, they do not mince or waste words. Nor do they xplain themselves at length. They obtain cooperation by inspiring, not punishing or rewarding. Because their grasp of command is natural, seemingly effortless, they do not have to resort to demand to obtain either loyalty or obedience. In that last regard, it is axiomatic that when obedience is demanded rather than commanded, loyalty will not result. {commanded meaning that your presence commands respect, not meaning that you gave a command}.

The preceding paragraph explains why today's dog owners are experiencing so many problems with something that is so fundamentally simple: the discipline of a dog. They are on the wrong track, barking up the wrong tree. Right consequences and methods -- behavior modification -- will not solve their problems. Right communication will.

Yes, consequences are important. But they are not the be-all end-all of discipline.



Anyway, I thought it was interesting if one read it from that perspective rather than a parenting perspective.

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