Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Is There a Difference Between Whispering and Training?

We've had quite a few emails recently asking the difference between Dog Whispering, and Dog Training. There is definitely a difference, however, neither is more correct than the other. Each is just a different method, each with its own success.

Dog Training: Obedience training uses sounds and rewards to encourage the dog to perform or present certain actions. From the dog's perspective, it is in control of the trainer, because by presenting specific actions, it will get a reward. There are several common forms widely in use today, and most involve treats as the "bribe" to get the action desired, which is considered "positive reinforcement," and often a clicker to keep the dog focused. This method works well for training a dog to perform specific actions, and with show dogs.

Dog Whispering: It is a behavior science based on OBSERVATION and understanding of the type of animal you are working with. By understanding the dog as a pack animal, one can begin to see and feel how a dog communicates, and learn to communicate with them by using only body language. It begins with watching dogs in the wild, and being able to discern a kind of "dog language" in which the dogs use body language, eye contact, and sounds, all non-verbal forms of communication. Whispering uses the dog's natural tendencies toward socialization to gain trust. This method works well for behavior issues in the home, for performing specific actions, and obedience.

In comparison, both methods work well for teaching a dog to perform certain very specific, commanded actions. However, treats and bribes does nothing for the behavior problems that many dog owners experience. In fact, a great deal of misbehaving dogs have been to dog trainers and obedience training in the past, only to return to the same behavior. Remember, dogs are pack animals. It is entirely possibly for you to gently and respectfully gain the dominant "alpha-dog" status, and become the leader of the pack.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

"However, treats and bribes does nothing for the behavior problems that many dog owners experience."

Actually, counter-conditioning is the preferred method for correcting nearly all behavioral problems. A CAAB (animal behaviorist with a PHD) or a veterinary behaviorist would recommend counterconditioning (which isn't bribery by the way) to solve aggression problems, house soiling problems, jumping up, pretty much any problem one can imagine.

Christi said...

It's interesting that you mention that, because our most successful whisperer is also a Veterinary Behaviorist, and had been in the veterinary field for nearly 25 years.

So, you were saying that "a veterinary behaviorist would recommend counterconditioning (which isn't bribery by the way) to solve aggression problems, house soiling problems, jumping up, pretty much any problem one can imagine."

I would love to see a "positive trainer" or "counter conditioning animal behaviorist with a PhD" that uses either treats or clicks to be able to show results in less than 15 minutes.

Most dog trainers need several sessions to achieve desired results, which ends up costing the dog owner much more money, and putting more money into the pockets of "positive trainers".

We are typically successful in the first session, and have never needed more than two sessions with a dog to achieve long term successful behavior modification.

Michelle said...

This post, as well as the other claims of "whispering" shows a distinct lack of understanding of not only what dog trainers and behaviorists DO, but also a complete lack of understanding about dogs. Basing theories off of long ago debunked studies done on captive wolves is simply wrong. I'm disappointed to see yet more Cesarites popping up on the internet trying to talk people out of training their dogs, out of taking their dogs to trained behaviorists and dog trainers, and convincing that in order to live happily with their dogs they have to play at being the "leader." Such a silly notion.

Anonymous said...

I disagree. First off, of all the flag-waving high-faluting titles re counterconditioning is just that...hyperbole. Then the references to whispering & Ceasarites & playing-the-leader have been put in a context of the ridiculous. Had you used the services of NWDW you'd understand how quickly and effectively the process worked. Accomplished more in 2 short sessions than w/ certified behaviorists. I should know, I used them both. NWDW approach was the only one that worked...forget all the other cliches.