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  • Taryn

A Quick Word on Training Philosophies

It's not uncommon for people to talk about the different "training philosophies" that supposedly exist. For example, I've heard people say: "But that's just one training philosophy...." or "I've had dogs for years and I disagree with your training philosophy". At this point they usually throw in words such as "pack", "will to please" or "respect" which gives a glimpse into their "training philosophy".

Now, there is no law preventing people from making up their own philosophy around how to raise and train their dogs (sadly for dogs), but something needs to be made very clear: What modern science-based trainers do is NOT a philosophy.

We did not study for years and gain a knowledge of canine physiology, learning theory, ethology of the species and affective neuroscience (the science of emotions that drive behaviour) just so we could wake up one morning and magically create a training "philosophy" that appealed to us. The field of training and behaviour modification is a scientific one - based on factual evidence and constantly growing as new research comes to light.

Sure, if you want to believe that dogs do things out of respect for us or that you need to be a mythical pack leader, then one could certainly class those fictitious beliefs as a "philosophy", but please do not assume that because these ideas are based on a belief system rather than scientific evidence, that the same is true of EDUCATED dog trainers - because it isn't. We're not making this stuff up as we go along. This isn't about what appeals to our egos or what fits in with our philosophical thoughts about the universe in general. We're bound by evidence. We're bound to look at the facts. We're bound to continue our efforts to grow and learn as more information becomes available all the time. And in the modern, science-based dog training community, there are no different philosophies. We may debate slight nuances in training techniques, but we're all after the same thing - to apply the science in a way that most benefits dogs and their owners. We don't waste time debating philosophies, because we're basing our work on facts, not fancies.


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