2 Methods Others Had Tried That Did Not Help and About Punishment
Updated: Jan 15
Like in many professions, you don't need to be qualified to advertise yourself as a dog trainer. Unfortunately Hedgehog's owner fell prey to this and had hired a number of 'well-priced' trainers who used now antiquated methods that have been proven to be detrimental to a dog's stability.
Knowing how to help your dog overcome a particular issue can be like wondering around in a maze for owners, sometimes. There is so much ready advice out there, professionals, pseudo-professionals, friends, family, fellow owners, the internet, and thousands of books by authors whose backgrounds and expertise we don't always verify.
The first good guideline is a trainer who professes to employ positive reinforcement.
Positive reinforcement involves praising and rewarding your dog for everything he does right. In operant conditioning a dog's behaviours can be reinforced or punished in various ways and many people, including trainers, still think it acceptable to punish dogs today. Punishment methods used to be commonplace in dog training, even standard practice, a clip on the nose, a yank on the lead, a verbal scolding.
Some people stand up for these practices because they say a dog is just an animal. Observe a dog suffer when she is in pain, or play in sheer happiness, or care for her pups, or carry out a courageous rescue. Watch how she dreams when she is asleep, how she becomes confused when you first teach her something new, then is proud when she has understood it. Watch your dog try to protect you or herself or what she views as hers, watch her become impatient when she reminds you it is food time, watch her try deliberately to make you laugh because she loves it when you are happy. A dog may not use verbal conversation as we do, but they feel a full range of emotions and sensations.
Some people defend punitive practices because they say they are effective. Punishment is effective sometimes, just as it is if you punish a child, or in some cases as men punish their wives, it doesn't mean the wife respects her husband, or the child its parent for a beating or a scolding he has received. He may develop a fear that makes him careful around that person or people or perceived related situations in general. And while the punishment may have the desired effect of making him refrain from a particular behaviour, it is hurtful, whether emotional or physical, and also detrimental to your relationship and frequently damaging to the individual's personality because it leads to mistrust and insecurity as well as fearfulness. Whether the person or animal shows it on the outside or not is usually linked to their individual character.
Hedgehog's Early Training
Hedgehog's owner realised too late that his nervous disposition was notably increased after he had undergone sessions with different trainers she tried, who used methods such as scolding, choke-chains, loud, alarming sounds for intervention, electric shock collars and sharp kicks to the rear for distraction. She trusted these people and relied on their 'expertise' to help an issue that was exacerbated, she felt that she had betrayed Hedgehog and damaged their relationship with negative associations.