Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Interesting correspondence for you...

This might provoke a little thought as it did for me. I was sent this email recently. Published with consent.

" Hi Nick,

I'm at university in South Wales. Dog behaviour is something I was thinking about doing afterwards as a career.

I asked because you've had lots of official training and I don't think that Cesar has. According to his books, he grew up around dogs and liked to watch and observe them. That's what he bases his philosophies on.

Also, I've been following his methods for the past year with my dog, and it seems to have worked, but I wonder if it's not as black and white as Cesar makes out. The Wolf Man, Shaun Elllis goes into more detail about relationships wolves have with each other, and since dogs are 99% wolf, I figured that he might have a point. I was wondering what your view on it was?

Thanks for replying!"

Nick says:

Hi Gavin. The best training anyone can have in this line of work is quite honestly hands on experience doing the job day in and day out. So I guess I share that with Cesar. I am in the process of taking a PG degree to basically validate my knowledge as it's a work-based learning degree.

When you've worked with lots of different dogs you get inside their heads to a degree and your work becomes easier as you'll make a good decision first time more often than not.

Nothing is truly black and white as you say. The best skill you can develop with dogs and people is to remain flexible. What might be a perfect approach with one dog could not work at all with another, so to stick to one philosophy or approach is a mistake in my opinion. Some dogs respond well to an assertive approach yes, others could crumble with that and a clicker could help. Keep the mind and techniques open I say.

The vast majority dogs respond well to a clear set of rules to live by which brings a sense of balance in the dog, and it knows where it's at so to speak. So yes, Cesar has it right when he says exercise, discipline and affection for sure. Some of his methods leave a bit to be desired in my view, but America (even the breeds they own) do things differently, so this needs taking into account. Programme editing makes it look good too of course!

Just remember that there is no single right (or wrong) way of solving behaviour problems. Just like art, every artist will do it differently, but still end with his or her own piece of art. Not sure if that's a great analogy, but you get my meaning?

I know very little indeed about wolves, and for ages I felt almost too embarrassed to mention it to anyone. But my theory now is that I don't work with wolves...I work with dogs and people. I know quite a bit about both of those...though the learning curve never ends of course ;)

Hope that offers some more answers for you?

Best wishes,


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