We only use positive methods, shame our students don’t

Blog post about attending positive dog training school allowing aversive dog training methods
By Laure-Anne Viselé, March 2011

The lost art of keeping your mouth shut

It’s tough attending a training class when you are shocked by the practices of your fellow students. But I am not the instructor in that class, so it’s not my place to say anything.  I wish the instructor did…

Positive training?

Extracts from the  ‘positive’ training class I attended this evening:

  • 4 out of 6 dogs were a wearing choke collar (some half-check)
  • 5 out of 6 handlers were frequently leash-jerking (some violently)
  • 1 handler regularly tapped her dog on the nose as punishment
  • Instructor told me I could drop the treats altogether, training being intrinsically rewarding

Dropping the treats altogether

This was actually an eye opener: my dog may actually love training for the sake of it! I was surprised, but he performed enthusiastically for her without a single treat (and without obsessing about her hands/pockets).

So, I’ll earnestly try to teach him that particular exercise without using treats at all (to lure or reinforce). Maybe I can expand it if it works. Could be interesting, as I am badly addicted to treats and I need help.

Choke collars

I am having a hard time understanding how a dog training school that advertises itself as positive allows them on its grounds. But, to be pragmatic about it, it doesn’t really affect my dog, so, whatever.

Leash jerking: I draw the line

Leash jerking was so frequent that it was turning into a dog bullying class.

I am not naturally a radical, but leash jerking goes one step too far for me.

One of my favourite sayings in dog training? “In leash jerking, “jerk” is a noun, not a verb“.


I’d done lots of research to find a positive training school in the region. I’d already been on the grounds, and asked the guide about the leash jerking and was told that it was ‘difficult to get it out of people’. It seemed like a reasonable answer, but I haven’t seen any attempt at addressing it.

I left the grounds feeling pretty stressed, and so did my dog, but I’d like to stick to it (as long as my dog can hack it) if only to try for my dog to pass this cycle with flying colours, to show them it can be done the smooth way.

I’ll keep y’all posted.

The whole palaver makes me wonder one thing: “Can a school really call itself ‘positive methods only’ if they allow their students to deal out aversive punishment methods“?

Any comments?

I love to read your comments, so go on, share your thoughts and remarks! Think am hair splitting? Think I should start World War II?

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