How The Hippies Ruined Dog Training

The Summer of Love.  Woodstock.  Free love.  No Boundaries.  No Rules.  No Limitations.  The hippies had it all, or so they thought.

An attitude of “do your own thing,” and “do whatever feels good,” eventually gave way to drug overdoses, single parenthood and societal burn outs. “Turn on, tune in and drop out” evolved into the “Me Generation” that eventually led to the excesses of the eighties.

We evolved.  We grew.  We’ve learned and we’ve become more mature and less idealistic as a society.  In essence: We became more balanced.

But not the dog training community.  Apparently, dog training is still stuck in the psychedelic sixties and is rapidly moving toward it’s own form of self destruction.

Image from Flickr LicenseAttribution istolethetv
Image from Flickr License Attribution: istolethetv

“Purely Positive” dog trainers– the dog training community’s hippie element– are now running the asylum and setting the agenda.  Advocating an approach that views boundaries, rules and limitations as absurdly “abusive” to dogs, they have been quietly moving into positions of authority within animal shelters and dog training associations– both here and in Europe.

Their entire hippie attitude of, “Just give warm fuzzies” when the dog does something right and ignore bad behavior is one that didn’t work for the children of the hippie-generation and it doesn’t work for their dogs, either.   In the name of the Beatles, “All we need is love,” more dogs are euthanized each year than saved because somebody running the local animal shelter would rather put a dog “to sleep” than (gasp!) safely and humanely correct a dog with a leash and a collar.

“What?  Surely they must be objecting to more than just using a leash and collar to correct a dog’s bad behavior, right?”

Unfortunately, no… they’re not.  It sounds absurd that anybody — much less a movement of “Purely Positive” trainers– could be so dead-set against a balanced approach to training.  (Telling a dog, “Good boy!” when he makes the right decision and, “No!” when he makes the wrong decision).

Making matters worse, they’ve co-opted terms like, “abuse” and “violence” to now mean tugging on a leash and collar.

Groovy, dude.

Except that it’s not.  It’s a bastardization and perversion of common sense.

This unbalanced hippie-dippy approach to dog training is hurting dogs.  By bastardizing and perverting the use of language, the “Purely Positive” hippies are dooming hundreds of thousands of dogs to an unnecessary death.

“Yes, but our approach is ‘force free.’ Can you dig it?”

No, I can’t.  What you’re really saying is that you’re not willing to make your dog do anything.  You’re giving all of the power to an animal with a three year-old’s intellect and the physical attributes to kill a person.  Brilliant.

Dogs need instruction.  They need leadership.  Like any other animal they do not always make decisions that are in their best interest.  Nor can they be bribed into making the right decisions if they find something else more interesting.

“But Purely Positive training is based on science, isn’t it?”

Yes… hippie science.  Junk science.  It’s the same pseudo-science that told us that the world was flat.  Or that ephedra was a safe diet supplement.  Or that hormones in our chicken and milk won’t make our kids have tits and mustaches by age six.

I’m skeptical about the “science” of psychology in the first place.  But then these hippies take it one step further by trying to apply their so-called, “science” to a field where the skill set of any one practitioner is variable at best, even from dog to dog.  Never mind that they usually start with their end in mind, a highly un-scientific practice.  Introduce a couple of loud-mouth PhDs into the discussion with a library of dog training dvds they’re trying to hock and you’ve got a recipe for a hippie movement that is using junk science to prove a theory of dog training that is more intent on making the practitioner feel good about themselves than it is about saving dogs.