You are its master. It should do what you ask.
I saw that in a comment on a blog post elsewhere, and it got me all riled up.
Nope. He is my partner. He does what I ask because we love to work together.
Recently, I shared an article on Facebook that, to me, reflects exactly the spirit of that Maya Angelou quote, “I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”
We are at a unique place in human history in which our understanding of animals is firmly rooted in science, in hard data, rather than a religious or agricultural or cultural understanding. We have canine cognition labs at major universities around the globe. We have fMRIs conducted on our dogs. We have chemical data taken from saliva and urine, and the empirical analyses of what those changes mean. We have pictures of dogs’ brains when they see and smell specific things. The list of data goes on and on and on.
Rightly so, that has changed our approach to animal training.
Well, not exactly.
If you glance through the comments on that article, the one that outlines tons of the science behind the behavioral approach that is not only humane but is also effective because it’s based in hard, scientific data, the comments are like, “Nuh uh.”
How have we become a society that regards opinion more than data? (I’m not just talking about dog training, of course…) If you don’t want to train your dog in a particular way for any particular reason, why can’t we just say that? Why do we accept, “Well, MY OPINION is this, so I’m discounting the science, and I don’t believe you anyway because I trained my dog this other way and he was fine”?
If, in the face of data that shows not only how your dog’s brain is working while he’s working, and you still choose to train in another manner, then so be it. But we really, truly, seriously need to stop elevating opinion over data.
It’s to the detriment of our dogs.
It’s to the detriment of our relationship with our dogs.
“Master” is arrogant. I don’t want to be “master” of my dogs. I want to be partners. Even if the science weren’t there, shining a bright light down the path of change, doesn’t it feel like a more humane approach anyway? A kinder way of working together than dominance and mastery? Emmett and I had a long working relationship that was built on mutual respect and trust. End of story. For us, anyway.
We know better. So why do some continue to choose not to do better?