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Define dominance training

10 years ago

"Modern behavioral science has proven that forceful handling such as physical punishment, leash yanking, or making a dog submit by rolling it on its back is psychologically damaging for the dog and has potentially dangerous consequences for owners."


"Positive Reinforcement (+R): If you want your dog to repeat a behavior more frequently, reward that behavior in some way.

Negative Punishment (-P): If you want your dog to repeat a behavior less frequently, remove any reward or perceived award for the behavior."

spedigrees listed two sources(both of which I quoted above about dominance training versus reward training. I think I should quantify my definitions, since my use of dominance has engendered such negative reactions.

I completely agree with both the quotes above and my training is based on how dogs treat dogs, instead of how humans think dogs act.

I do not use any of those techniques listed in the first quote, other than a leash correction(which only happens after basic behavior is understood)---which in NOT the usual body position changing yank.

I use body language and voice corrections. Example: I have a dominant dog, off leash, who growls when I say EH(my no command)! I simply back the dog into it's corner/kennel using my posture (without touching the dog) and stand until the dog relaxes. Might take 20 minutes. Then I simply walk off. Repeat enough times to show the dog the unwanted behavior is not allowed. They do not get praised for exhibiting normal behavior. They get basic behavior down pat before leash training is even started. That way the voice command is much more controlling than the leash.

How about a submissive dog who will freeze on a leash? I stand quietly until the dog unfreezes and reward the unfreeze with praise. Rewarding desired behavior and ignoring unwanted behavior.

I have both types of dogs. One who was once so uncontrolled, he was almost seized by a court order and euthanized. Had I attempted to physically discipline him when I first got him, he would have bitten/attacked me. An unusually rare case? In a way, but only because of how long he had been uncontrolled(over a year). He is not mean, he is just has a very aggressive and dominant personality.

He is now quite well behaved and anyone with basic leash knowledge can walk him or control him(like at a boarding kennel)---and he is NOT neutered. I have never hit/rolled/punished him physically. Ever. But, he is not a pet. He is way too dominant for me to allow him to do pet type things. Like sleep on human furniture. I do play with him, groom, and goof off. But, he is always aware I am the boss. He never precedes me---ever. He gets fed only when I decide to do so. If I were to feed him when he asks---and he asks almost daily, he will be more insistent the next day. He can ask to go out and I let him out. And in. But, I sometimes leave him out after he barks to come in. Trail and error have shown me this is necessary.

However, because I believe in dogs need pack stability, I needed to get a second dog. Difficult when he attacked any other dog. So, I let him choose his pack mate. And he chose the most subservient, scared, miserable female that I have ever seen(and I worked for a vet for 4 summers).

And he proceeded to show me how she needed to be treated to rehabilitate her. I simply did what he did---ignored unwanted behavior and rewarded desired behavior. He even sensed she needed to go through a puppy stage---and allowed her to do that---jumping on him, chewing his ears/tail and so forth.

Until he deemed she was ready to be an adult---and he used the same technique I do---a short grunt, whereupon she went belly up and he walked off.

Now, I can correct her bad habit(only one---barking at other dogs) with the same 'Hey!' I use on him.

The female is a pet, she sleeps on the bed/couch, lays in my lap, and gets called a Pretty Girl. The male preceeds her outside/inside---she will not come in until he does.

But Heaven help him if he gets near her food.

I don't condone animal cruelty, and hitting an animal as a correction is not something necessary(except in cases where an animal is hurting a person or other animal.)

But, dogs have a system of dominance inherent in their society, and humans do well to understand how that system works and to adopt it when useful.

Comments (19)

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    The only way that positive reinforcement training could be properly conveyed to you, or anyone unfamiliar with it, Handymac, would be for you to sit in on a series of beginner classes.

    Yes of course there is a hierarchy in wolf and dog society, but you will always be the alpha person in your domestic dog's pack. You feed and care for your dog; of course you are the leader of the pack in his eyes. It isn't necessary to prove you are the alpha by using force. Using treats, clickers, and reward based training will establish the same thing much more effectively.

    Positive Reinforcement training does not equate with permissiveness. It works just as effectively to teach your dog to get off the sofa, walk nicely on a leash, wait to go through a door, and all the other things we want our dog to master. It simply employs a different method to teach the same lessons. Positive reinforcement training utilizes a non forceful method of setting up your dog to succeed.

    Dominance based training comes in many forms, with abuse (electric collars etc) being at the far end of the spectrum, and a more sane version, such as the methods you've described, at the other end. Will your style of training damage a dog or break his spirit? No.

    I used this same philosophy of training on my first dog in the early 1970s (because that is what was available at the time and widely believed by all dog experts) and he was well behaved and had a wonderful quality of life. He knew all sorts of tricks and commands and he loved people.

    Would he have benefited more from reward based training? Absolutely.

    I draw this comparison because I have attended classes and trained dogs in *both* schools of training. It is impossible to evaluate either school of training without having used both, under the auspices of competent trainers.

    I can't blame you for being skeptical, but I would suggest that before you pass judgment on a training method that you have never used, that you take your next dog, or even one of your current dogs to a beginners class (start at the beginning even with a trained dog) and see the class through to graduation, using only those methods demonstrated.

    The classes I attended had mostly young dogs of a wide variety of breeds and mixed breeds. There were German shepherds, pointers, setters, dachshunds, several little yorkies, other terriers, border collies, a malamute, and beagles to name those I remember off the top of my head. All these dogs got off to a great start and were happy and wagging. I gained infinitely more insight into how a dog thinks and how to shape his behavior and teach him new things by attending these classes than I ever did with the old school trainers. I'm willing to bet that you would expand your training horizons by giving reward based training a fair shake.

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Jeez, I just wrote a manifest agreeing with you and you still maintain I have no idea what positive reinforcement is all about.

    I see people whose dog is Alpha all the time. Most of the time, the dog is not mean or dangerous, so it is only a problem for the people(who have no concept of dog behavior) and the dog, which is not a contented animal.

    BTW, the male to which I am referring was refused entry in two 'professionally' run obedience classes when he was less than a year old(according to the previous owners)---for being too aggressive and dangerous. Which is one reason the dog almost was euthanized. He is the only dog(so far) I have had to use the types of training I had to use---because of his personality.

    I realize he is an exception(except for pit type breeds--a whole nother story, I had one of those as well), but the fact remains, those classes you espouse would not allow his inclusion.

    A short story about his behavior now. I had to board both dogs some years ago for a week. Most facilities will not take unneutered males. Luckily, I know an owner of a boarding facility in a neighboring town who agreed to board him. They have large outdoor runs and I told her to put both dogs in a run(was weather in the 70-80 range. They walk dogs at least twice a day.

    When I came to pick up the dogs, she told me I could not have them back. Because they were such sweethearts, the exercisers fought to get to walk him and they loved coaxing her when she froze and responded.

    Then I put them beside me as rest(on leash) and told her to reach towards me. She did and quickly drew back as the male growled. I then handed her his leash and she walked him around the room.

    And the female was rehabilitated TOTALLY by reward based methods. Until about 24 months ago, I did not even raise my voice to her.

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  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Sorry Handymac, but the training methods you describe are not Positive Reinforcement methods. Backing a dog into a corner, leash corrections, etc are not cruel, but these methods are not used in PR dog training.

    When you have taken a dog through a beginner class with a trainer skilled in reward based training, then you will be qualified to agree or disagree with that particular discipline. I'll be interested in hearing your take on it at that time.

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    So, you are saying the method you espouse has a 100% success rate?

    And every dog is allowed into classes, no matter how misbehaving?

    And just because I attend a class means I have expertise?

    And the fact I rehabilitated a dog using reward training methods---and no other method ideas----- means I still have no understanding of the method?

    You are aware no one method is appropriate for every dog.

    I have 45+ years of experience training dogs and 20 years training horses. I made some mistakes. I am still learning---the submissive dog has been the most difficult rehabilitation to date. Because I never knew what would freeze her. That super aggressive dog showed me how to treat her----because he has inherent knowledge. He knows how to be a dog better than I do. That also taught me how I had to treat him---which was MUCH different than her treatment.

    The one thing I have learned is each dog has a different personality and needs different treatment.

    No one program, no matter how benign or severe is the answer.

    And good trainers will be the first to admit that fact.

    This post was edited by handymac on Sat, Aug 17, 13 at 23:33

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I think the name defines itself. I am not afraid of and have never felt the need to dominate animals. I don't think fear-based training or interactions is particularly effective.

    I agree that they know who butters their bread by default. I find all this alpha dog dominance stuff these days troubling. I want them to be happy. They are family members and individuals who are entitled to a free and peaceful life like the rest of us . They need some basic rules to follow, just like the rest of us, but I learned early (having witnessed the techniques of rough, brow beating of horses into submission of the past) that working with them in a positive fashion works best and keeps everybody happy. "With love". Fun. Patience. Acceptance. TRUST. Things they relate well to. They are eager pleasers.

    This post was edited by snookums2 on Sun, Aug 18, 13 at 15:14

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Handymac, attending a Reward-based training class would not make you an expert on the subject. What it would do is give you an understanding of how this type of training works and impart to you the capacity to evaluate it.

    If indeed you have a desire to continue learning new training methods, I would think that you would want to explore another school of thought in opposition to the methods you are familiar with.

    You claim to have used positive reinforcement on your more timid dog, but what you really are describing is simply a less forceful version of the same old school methods you have used on your more challenging dog. Reward based training does not use words like 'rehabilitation,' 'alpha,' or 'dominant.' Positive reinforcement training has a different vocabulary. These are two completely different schools of thought.

    PR training utilizes different *exercises* based on the needs of each particular animal. For an example, when I first got her, my current sheltie was terrified of new places and people due to lack of previous exposure. She behaved like a raving psycho when we entered our first class, and was circling frantically on her leash. The instructor observed her, remarked "At least she is still interested in taking treats from you." (For PR classes each student brings a treat bag filled with many very small high quality treats and a device called a clicker for marking positive behavior.) She said "Try this: every time Mabel runs in a circle, click and reward at the very moment she turns and approaches you." A few times of this and Mabel was staying close to my side. It was more rewarding for her to stay still, and it created a pleasant association with being at the class with other dogs and other people. For each dog, treats and clicking a desired behavior occurred differently depending on the habits, behaviors, and temperament of the dog in question. It is all about timing and setting a dog up to succeed. But these different exercises all exist under the umbrella of Positive Reinforcement methodology.

    Very aggressive dogs were not allowed into the general classes I've attended, but they were worked with on a one-to-one basis with 2 of the three instructors I've known, using the same reward based techniques. The 3rd trainer did not train seriously aggressive dogs due to the fact that she had children/teens apprenticing under her and could not risk the liability. By 'very aggressive' I mean a biting dog who would growl or attack without obvious provocation, not simply a rambunctious dog dragging his owner across the room at the end of a leash.

    The timing of treating/clicking varies according to the needs of each particular dog. The principles of reward based training do not.

    You say no single training method will work on every dog, yet you have employed the same old school methods, just with varying degrees of severity and old style of praise, on all of your dogs of quite different temperaments.

    Why not learn something new, and then compare the two methodologies?

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Snookums2, that was a very well phrased post. You are more articulate than I.

    I agree with you 100% that our dogs, and horses too, are family and should be treated with the same respect that we want from them. I am happiest when my animals are happy, and I want the same quality of life and physical/mental well-being that I hope for myself.

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    spedigrees, is it possible to do just the reward part in training and not use the clicker?

    My littlest dog gets frightened easily when we are walking and she gets growly at most other dogs. She isn't interested in biting them. She just wants them to stay away from her.

    Can I, using treats, just try to redirect her attention to me when she is doing this? Would this work to get her to just ignore the approaching dog?

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi murraysmom, yes you can omit the clicker. Two of the classes I attended did not use clickers. I would substitute some kind of signal word or noise, such as a cluck with your tongue. (One of my trainers recommended this for when we were outdoors and didn't have a clicker with us.) At home, before you go out, without any distractions, practice making whatever sound you decide to use (it could be your dog's name too, altho a click or cluck tends to work better) and at the same time toss or offer a treat to your dog. You want to firmly establish this connection between the sound with treats. I'd practice this randomly at different times during the day during the course of the week(s). You want the association to be as strong as you can get it before you offer it as competition with the captivating option of communicating with other dogs along your walk. Do bring treats with you when you go out walking, to keep the association between the word and the reward alive and to make turning his attention away from the other dog more appealing.

    The things that my dogs have learned with a clicker become behaviors I can ask for without a clicker now. If I am indoors and ask one of my dogs to demonstrate some of the tricks they know, I no longer use a clicker because they know these tricks already. I do reward with treats always during such a session, since I am within convenient reach of the fridge. If I'm outdoors and I ask for a behavior, such as "wait" while I open a gate, I don't reward with treats (or clicker) because 1) they know the command and 2) continuing on our walk is as good a reward as any treat.

    There is something scientific about how the sound that a clicker makes activates the amygdala of an animal's brain thus creating a very strong memory, so this is a very superior tool for first teaching a behavior.

    I'm not a professional trainer, so these are just snippets based on my experience and advice from actual training experts. Best of luck. I hope this is some help..

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I wasn't going to jump in here but one thing has bothered me since spedigrees posted on the other thread. In it s(he) stated "My current "puppy" is over a year and a half, and she still jumps and bites. This is how puppies play". IMO, any dog that has gone thru training should not still be jumping and biting, especially after 1 1/2 years. Why hasn't the solid approach you have to training corrected this bad habit by now?
    As Dr. Phil would say, "'s that working for you?"

    I think handymac summed it up well with: "The one thing I have learned is each dog has a different personality and needs different treatment." Don't read into that statement that he uses a heavy hand in working with his dogs.

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I just started my dog in a training class, and we have been to one session and are practicing our lessons at home. I believe it is positive reinforcement as we use lots of praise and treats too. But we are told to pop the leash back when they begin to pull. Is there a gentler way?

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Socks, in the classes I've attended we were instructed to counter leash-pulling in two different ways. One is to simply stop until your dog moves toward you. The reward for a slack leash is that you then move forward and he gets to continue the walk (which of course he is keen to do). The other was teaching a dog to walk alongside his owner by luring with a treat which you give to him at periodic intervals if he's doing well. I'm talking about leash lessons walking around the classroom, but I've employed these methods out on the trails with my dogs in their early days of walking on a leash. My dogs have all had an aptitude for walking well on a leash, but for some of the persistent pullers, my instructors employed various types of harnesses, 'gentle leader' comes to mind. I didn't really pay all that much attention to this, as it wasn't a problem that I had with any of my dogs. It might be something to look into though.

    Annz, that is a fair question. However most puppies and young dogs have more energy than anyone can imagine, and a fair amount of them jump and bite, given no other outlet for their energy. They all outgrow this, but this is a phase most go through.

    When I am outdoors with my sheltie and her youthful exuberance gets the best of her, I redirect her boundless energy by throwing a frisbie for her to retrieve. After about ten or 15 throws of this fun game, she calms down. She seldom jumps or bites indoors anymore. When she does, handing her an ice cube of chewy toy, would redirect her from this behavior. On a leash she has always been intent on going forwards and exploring the trails, and never jumps or bites.

    She is easy to live with and not a problem, but a joy. As snookums2 listed among those things that a dog responds to best, *patience* is one of the top training resources. Puppies take several years to mature. That's shorter by far than a human child's difficult years. By this time next year I would be astonished if my sheltie ever thought of jumping or biting. That was the pattern with all my previous dogs. Puppies are not mechanical toys that one can program to be perfectly behaved, and patience is a key element, along with realistic expectations, to raising and training a pup to become a well behaved dog.

    My point was that if my puppy had no outlets for her energy, such as frisbie chasing sessions or walks, she would be a menace to everyone around her and ultimately to herself. It was also to reassure the OP on that thread that her puppy was probably not being aggressive, but rather just being a typical puppy in need of training, exercise, and distractions/mental enrichment.

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Spedigrees, with all due respect, you are so hung up on words, you have no concept of what I do.

    I did NOT use revamped old methods on the female. ANY vestige of control---to the wrong tone of voice at normal conversational volume---- froze her. Even the big old aggressive dog knew better---and did not act anything like he did towards other dogs.

    One last reminder. Dog trainers who make money training dogs/people have to have something---a technique or program---that sets them apart from other trainers. Otherwise, said trainers would just be another face in the crowd. Many 'dog' trainers are actually people trainers.

    I don't charge for my training. I simply show people how to best work with their dog---as a dog would, not as a human.

    Many people cannot do that---so they have trouble with their dogs. Look at how many people take their dog to obedience training, and six months later, have nothing to show for their troubles.

    I used to tell people I raised my sons like I raised my dogs---because I trained/raised dogs long before I had kids. My sons married very different women, who looked askance at that statement. Now, both DIL's have adopted my philosophy.

    Basically, set goals, set a good example, maintain order in conduct, and use love to produce the best results. Odd thing is, I spanked my sons on occasion(twice, when they lied to us), but have never 'spanked'(hit) any of my dogs.

    Humans need discipline, so do dogs, so do horses. The key is using the correct kind of discipline in the right way. And discipline is not beating/hitting/corporal punishment. A word, gesture, or look can be more effective.

    I've been a Drill Instructor who trained recruits in Basic Training who knew they were going to Viet Nam(1970-1972) and I have been a classroom instructor with young adults and foreign citizens in my classes. I worked with kids and horses for 20 years in 4-H.

    All those folks got the same general treatment---established goals, parameters within which to train, encouragement when appropriate, discipline when necessary, and my expectation they would do their best.

    The differences were the methods I used with each group were much different.

    I do basically the same procedure with dogs---I just use the same techniques that dogs themselves use---for the individual dog with which I am working---big aggressive GSD mix, Alaskan Malemute, Lab/pit mix, chihuahua/terrier mix, or the abandoned dog I spayed(under the watchful eye of the vet for whom I worked) and took home in spite of my mother's saying No.

    I don't have certificate of education on the wall. I do have 40+ years of successful training with dogs and horses---and people.

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Annz, I realize in retrospect that my reply to you was long and rambling. I apologize.

    A more succinct version is this: most puppies and young dogs have an instinct to jump and bite, because they are teething and because this is how they play with their littermates. No type of training will transform a puppy into a calm adult dog. Only time will do this.

    What training methods do is to provide us with the tools to redirect this puppy energy. I should have more appropriately stated that my dog still has the *desire* to jump and bite. That doesn't mean she is constantly jumping and biting, but it means that the instinct to play is still strong in my young dog. When she tries to play by jumping and biting I redefine the game by throwing a ball for her or taking her for a walk.

    I hope this explanation makes more sense.

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Makes perfect sense, spedigree. I like to let my animals be themselves, and be the youngsters that they are. I would not want to stifle their spirits. If they are being too rough, I let them know, but we still like to play, wrestle even rough house their way.

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    This is my first time reading this thread or any thread in this forum but in handymac's defense, let me ask the question of those of you who think you are disagreeing with handymac, how do you deal, in the moment, when a dog is doing something he/she isn't supposed to be doing? Chewing on the remote, nipping too hard, etc.

    Snookums notes above using the technique of 'letting them know' when dogs are playing too rough. I read handymac's methods as doing exactly this.

    Most positive reinforcement training is very much about training *sessions* and carrying that over as much as possible into everyday life. But, for most of us we can't have every interaction with our dogs be an opportunity for positive reinforcement. Dogs do things we don't want them to.

    Handymac's approach seems to very clearly incorporate the philosophy of positive reinforcement but also deals with the day-to-day living with dogs and deals with it in a way that uses the dogs' language. Looking to how one dog treats another is an excellent way to learn the 'language' of dogs.

    Positive reinforcement is certainly useful, but learning the other ways of communicating to dogs is also important. Why not have an arsenal of tools, instead of just one?

    Or, quite frankly, it seems like some of handymac's techniques can simply be redescribed as positive reinforcement in the way that stopping when a dog is pulling a leash is reframed as a positive reinforcement is the getting to continue moving being the reward for not pulling (instead of the stopping being the removal of the reward of moving). Moving a dog that thinks it's the alpha into a corner using body blocks could be reframed as 'rewarding the dog for calming down by removing the body block'.

    I'm really impressed by handymac's success with the two dogs discussed above and wish I could sit and pick handymac's brain for some thoughts on how to deal with my rescue.

    This post was edited by Phronesis on Wed, Aug 21, 13 at 7:47

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Phronesis, positive reinforcement training teaches us these methods and tools:

    1) Puppyproof a puppy or young dog's environment as you would for a child or toddler, aka removing dangerous items and tempting items that he would want to chew, and replacing these items with safe chew toys.

    2) Provide your young dog/puppy with enough exercise to prevent boredom and frustration, which are key elements of destructive behavior.

    3) A key command taught early on in PR training is "Leave it" which is initially taught by placing an object on the floor a few feet from the dog in class, uttering the "leave it" command firmly when he starts to investigate, and rewarding with a click and treat instantly when he turns away from the object.

    Once a dog has mastered the "leave it" command, you use this tool anytime your dog is getting into something you want him to stay away from. As he gets a firm grasp of "leave it" you can substitute a word of praise for a treat when he does *leave it,* but it is best to offer something to counter the attraction of the forbidden object, such as continuing on your walk if this happens while on a walk, or playing with him with a toy for a few minutes in the house. If the forbidden object can be removed from his environment, remove it. If your dog wants to investigate a dead squirrel on your walk, use the "leave it" command but let him sniff around in a safe area further along the walk if he wants to (out of sight and smell of the deceased rodent) perhaps around a bush or tree. A walk should be 80% joyful exploration and exercise, and 20% "leave it." When learning to walk on a leash, it's helpful to bring a pocketful of treats for these early lessons.

    It is important to *help your dog succeed* by limiting his access to things he might destroy or get into. For example keep trash bins locked or in a room where your dog is not allowed. You want to limit the incidents of having to issue the "leave it" command.

    The above advice is for a puppy/young dog or a new older untrained dog. This is how you build a foundation of trust, respect, and understanding with your new family member which will last all though the rest of his life with you. As your dog matures mentally and physically, the need for corrections via redirection and puppyproofing will wane and disappear, and he will be a happy, well behaved member of your household.

    I once read these words in a book written by a wise dog trainer whose methods were ahead of his time. It was this: "It is far better to show a dog how to do something the right way than to punish him for doing it the wrong way."

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I thought I should inject a word about my own credentials.

    Over the past 50 years I have trained 7 dogs (4 collies, 2 shelties, and one mixed breed rescue dog) and 4 equines (2 horses and 2 ponies). My first two collies came to me as one year old dogs and the latter two were puppies. Both my shelties were pups and my older mixed breed was a formerly abused biter with serious trust problems when they came to me. Two of my horses and one pony were what I would call "green broke" and the other pony was an untrained 3 yr old that I took on to train & rehome to save her from the meat buyers, but who ended up staying with me until her death at age 36.

    My first collie was a rescue of sorts, having lived the first year of his life at the end of a chain. I trained him with methods available at that time. He embraced the task of getting out of the road when a car approached, and he would have been sadly disappointed had he learned that the only point of this task was to protect himself from injury. He would scurry over to the side of the road and look at us with self-satisfaction, as if to say "There I found a car for you! Didn't I do good!?" I trained him using old school methods, and I lament not having access to reward based training methods at the time, as it would have made him an even more exceptional dog than he was. That is not to say he wasn't lavished with praise and love, just that old style dominence methods were employed. Still he had a great quality of life and walked hundreds of miles on hikes and horseback rides. But it always eats at me that I did not have the tools available that are at my disposal today.

    My last collie that I trained with positive reinforcement methods passed his canine good citizen test with flying colors and earned a backpacking title from the American Working Collie Assoc, carrying a pack for a dozen miles, and another 12 miles on his way to winning another title from a different organization.

    I schooled my horses in basic dressage, simple reining exercises, elementary jumping, barrel racing, as well as training my mare and both ponies to pull a cart. None of them even knew something as basic as how to back up when they came to me. My sister and I conditioned our horses for a number of 25 - 35 mile competitive trail rides and placed well. I placed 3rd (actually first place, except that there was also a champion and reserve champion ahead of her) in a competitve trail drive at Green Mountain Horse Assoc. with my small pony as well. This was quite an accomplishment for a small Shetland pony competing against a field of Arabians and Morgans. My Morgan X mare and I were often in the money/ribbons every week at local rodeos and gymkhanas.

    As far as horse training mentors, I took my advice from articles and books written by those who wrote about "developing a rapport with one's horse" and under the tutelage of similar minded equestrian instructors, both Western and English.

    It is not necessary to engage in some sort of macho peeing contest with one's dog to teach him desirable vs undesirable behaviors, nor with horses. As far as horses, my favorite words of advice on the subject comes from a trainer I respected highly, a man with great expertise in training "problem horses," Dave Jones. He wrote this: "When you are starting to lose your temper with your horse, picture this: imagine that your gentle riding horse is the meanest, mankillingest son-of-a-*** under the sun. Would you lose your temper with this horse? Heck no! He'd stomp you to death!" Mr Jones' sense of humor was one of his endearing qualities, but the message behind his words spoke volumes. I developed a lasting rapport with all my horses. The proof of their trust in me was evident when my mare was willing to cross a narrow bridge that no sane horse would cross because I told her it was OK, or when I had to perform a veterinary procedure on one of them, or if I told them it was OK to allow a vet to do the same. I never betrayed their trust in me and I could trust them all implicitly. I cared for them all their lives into old age and they rewarded me with a love that is still with me now that they are gone. (It had nothing to do with the obvious fact that the human with the grain can was in charge, aka alpha.) That is the definition of rapport.

  • 10 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    spedigrees You obviously have a lot of experience, it shows from your good advice. And I respect your experience and knowledge.

    My point is there is no one method that works for every animal.

    I had a quarter horse(bought at 6 months old) which delighted in resisting any training I tried, no matter what the method. I mean he would get a look in his eye and you could see the grin of "Whatever you want, I ain't gonna do!" light up his face. I worked with him for 4 years, (with the help of the best trainer I ever knew) and got basically nowhere.

    One day, I reached the end of my rope---and he and I went round and round. I am not proud of my actions that day, but at the end of the hour we fought, he ceded the fact I was the boss. It never broke his spirit---we had fun with each other for the next 20 years---and he taught numerous kids how to ride/show---and turned out to be a class A barrel racer and team penning horse. We never used spurs/whips/hard bits with him. Hack for fun and Tom Thumb for ring work. He used to come stand next to me and rub his face on my shoulder---and then try to knock me off balance---just for fun.

    Had an own grandson of Impressive---scariest horse I ever dealt with. Had the genetic deformity and was very unpredictable. Would totally freak and go berserk. We had him for 8 years and sold him to a beginning rider who tried to barrel race him---by that time our training had him calm and dependable.

    Those two horses were as different as could be---and took very different methods of training.

    Wife had a quarter horse mare that had a horrendous cut on the front of her left hind leg---bone visible in a 4" wide gap. Had to give her a penicillin shot daily for 3 months and rewrap her leg daily for that time. It was really painful---she would hold her breath, shudder, and sigh as the wraps came off. My youngest son and I were the only people she would allow to do that.

    Raised three colts who never felt a whip or more than a slap and never bucked or resisted.

    One more item. That trainer of whom I spoke. I saw her train a 2 year old stud horse that had to be tranquilized three times in two hours just to get him out of a stall(first time he'd been touched by humans or in a stall) into a trailer(mine) and to the training facility to basic reining condition in 33 days. And she never hurt the horse at any time. No harsh methods at all.

    All that talent and knowledge went for naught with that first quarter horse, however.

    So, it seems we have experience, ability, and commendable results. All by different methods.

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