May the Force NOT Be with You

Ha Ha! These Guys Really DO Look Like Ewoks!! Thanks HGTV

I am sorry Star Wars lovers, this really has nothing to do with Star Wars.  I too am a Star Wars fan… never really got into Star Trek, but I sure do love me some Ewoks.   The critters were always my favorite… but I digress.

I was all poised and ready to write an article on force and how forcing affects not only your dog but also the people in your lives; when I got a response on our blog from someone who is happily hitting his dog… Yes, I unfortunately said “happily hitting his dog”. 

You know most people actually feel bad for smacking their dog in the face, but not this guy, he was proud like everyone should jump on his band wagon (don’t worry I will share some of his comments in a minute), but in all reality…

No one likes to feel forced.

We like to think we are doing things because we WANT to do it or because there is something else to gain from our inconvenience.

We may not WANT to go to work, but there is something that we get out of it (friendship, a paycheck).

It doesn’t matter which animal it is, force is not a happy, joyful experience.

Did I mention NO ONE (or nothing) LIKES FORCE?

Thank you Whitezine and Volkswagon for this photo

  • This is why when you pull on  your dog’s collar he pulls back
  • When you try to pop his collar he just pulls harder
  • When you try to MAKE your dog sit or lay down he struggles, tries to bite you, or runs away

Dogs like to feel like they are in control just as much as anyone else.

This doesn’t mean he is sitting in his crate at night planning to take over the world with some diabolical plan.  No animal, human, dog, cat, squirrel, raccoon, you name it here _____ likes to be forced to do something it doesn’t want to do with no obvious gain.

The true trick is to make them think they WANT to listen to our commands, this is what makes us the intelligent or superior being.  We click and treat them for listening to us, and we teach them appropriate behaviors!

What would You Do Whew Whew (I am hoping you sang that in your head)

for a Klondike Bar ®?

I’m going to have to stick with the Star Wars theme and thank for the photo

Would you pick up some dog poop with a bare hand?  I bet some of you would… hands wash after all.

Now what if I came up to you and tried to force you to pick up some poop; even your own dog’s poop with your bare hand?

I bet we’d get down to some brawling pretty quickly; don’t underestimate me I am pretty sprite and tough when I am backed against a wall and have to defend myself!

This is how your dog feels when you are about to force him to do something he really doesn’t want to do, something he is scared to do, or when he knows you are about to punch him in the face.

It MAY work in your favor if you are bigger, faster, and more determined… but you may lose should your dog decide that he is tired of being hit, strangled, kicked, shocked or otherwise physically abused.

Let’s just say if you wouldn’t do it to your kid in a crowded mall, you probably shouldn’t be doing it to your dog… anywhere.

Just over a year ago a former Army veteran dog trainer in Colorado was arrested for aggravated animal cruelty.  Aggravated animal cruelty is a Class 6 felony in Colorado and if found guilty, Matthews could face up to 18 months in prison and a maximum $100,000 fine.

Hitting, kicking, choking, shocking, prong collars and choke chains are common staples in traditional training techniques that depend on punishment which is not only outdated; using common sense has actually been proven that positive reinforcement and positive techniques work better.

As BF Skinner discussed, positive reinforcement is superior to punishment in altering behavior. He maintained that punishment was not simply the opposite of positive reinforcement; positive reinforcement results in lasting behavioral modification, whereas punishment changes behavior only temporarily and presents many detrimental side effects.

Like the next time you go to hit your dog… he may attack you for trying!

I hope this was just for a picture (photo edited) and I pretend that is a 250 pound angry Mastiff… that makes my mind happier.

I always fear for the dog trainer that tells his client who may weigh less than his/her dog to hit, kick, or alpha roll it.  Some day some dog trainer is going to cause someone’s death.  It is sad, because it is avoidable and people who use these techniques are lazy and irresponsible.

The Argument

So this is how the argument started and went down.  I will edit it a bit and not use real names but I had a response from a gentleman that thinks hitting his dog in the face is an appropriate punishment when the dog doesn’t listen.  Not only is he proud that he did it and as he said “It worked.  He’d do it again”

Now, first you have to understand we are a “Hands Off” training program, we neither condone nor recommend hitting, punching, kicking or even leash corrections.  I guess he was bored and wanted a debate so this was my response.  I will make “me” purple.

So is this how you would treat a child? Or how you would respond to a Whale or a Cheetah?

I have worked with Cheetahs, and I certainly wouldn’t be smacking them in the face.

We are the more intelligent animals, we should use our brains and not our physical brawn to get them to do what we ask.

My other background is in training Service Dogs for people in wheel chairs. I may have been able to smack my dogs in training in the face or hit them, but that doesn’t mean their quadriplegic owner could do the same thing nor would I nor would I ever expect them to do so.

Dogs and especially wolves often kill, maim and blind each other in the wild, and mothers often kill their young. That also doesn’t make it acceptable for us to do to them when we are angry or they don’t listen.

If your dog is not listening to you, that is the problem, there is the break down in your communication and relationship.

Hitting isn’t needed; perhaps a little one on one obedience training and spending more time together would help him adjust better than getting a fist to the muzzle.

And this was his and since he is so angry I will make his red…

no, it’s how i would treat my dog and how i do treat my dog. hes a dog, hes not a human. thats the problem with weirdos like you. you project your own weaknesses and neuroses onto animals & this confuses them, and demeans them in my opinon. dogs arent toys, they are predators, pack animals whose genetics have been manipulated but they remain animals with animal dynamics.

he responds fine when i smack him, which is rare. but when i do it, i dont regret it at all. his behavior changes to how he should behave (ie, obeying me) and everything is fine. if he needs a corrective “bite” in the form of a good sound smack every now and then, it doesnt diminish his trust in me, it only asserts for him who the pack leader is.

you dont know anything about animals, obviously, and have no respect for them other than as toys for your amusement.

the old dog is actually well trained…he knows more than 100 commands, including hand signals. i achieved this with him using smacks to back up voice commands. he is as confident as ever—as i said he is an animal and strong-willed—but respects the boundaries. so you go ahead and coddle and demean and continue to treat the animals you come into contact with like they are toys in a cartoon. my method works fine and it respects the animals as they are meant to be respected and are genetically evolved to be respected.

I can make no excuses for his poor usage of the English language; I suppose that in and of itself should tell me volumes about who I was speaking with.

And, I must say that yes I get my dogs for “my amusement” in some ways they are “my toys” as he puts it because I snuggle with them, I play with them, I use them to do things for me… and I really don’t think that is wrong.   Why else would someone get a dog?

And, I certainly respect them, which is why I don’t punch them in the face.  If I met Joe Montana (my favorite ball player or all time) or Jon Bon Jovi, or Ian Dunbar or Karen Pryor; I certainly wouldn’t smack them in the face as a show of respect or if our opinions on something differed.

I think a good friend of mine use to sum it up perfectly “Aggression is the first resource of the incompetent”.

Whereas I can expect aggression from animals, I expect kind, gentle, thought and tolerance from people who I assume have minds and intelligence toward their dogs.

I have some very difficult “working” dogs, and yet I don’t need to punch them in the face if they don’t listen.  I actually place the blame where it lies; with me for not teaching them well enough and giving them enough skills for whatever situation I put them in.

I’ll stick with my clicker and fun dog training thanx!

What do you think?  Do you resort to punching and kicking?

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  1. luann mcgill says:



  2. Karen Simmons says:

    Oh my! You have a live one there. Anyone who has to resort to hitting (abusing) their dog does not appreciate the complexity of the animal or the damage to the relationship they have with them. Why, when there are other effective training methods out there would someone want to do this? My guess is they want an obedient dog fast and are not willing to put in the time necessary to train them humanely.


  3. Alissa says:

    The dog may obey, but the dog probably doesn’t like his owner. I mean, who would? And he has an interesting way of displaying respect… This is NOT the way to train a dog!


  4. Bodie Willmot says:

    Now I am not trying to tell you to change the way you train your dogs nor am I seeking you to tell me to change the way I train mine. I use a choker chain collar for training and a soft leather buckle collar for play. Now I would never ever hit, kick, punch or otherwise physically abuse my beautiful boy. I use the choker to snap his attention back to me when it wanders, as it can do as he is still a puppy at 14 months. I dont use it as physical corrective punishment when he does wrong and I shower him with hugs, ear scratches and “good boy!!!”s when he does right.

    My dog is now quite well trained and I don’t use a single treat as I found that meant he would do anything for a treat but it was just not going to happen without one. I try to train my dog twice a day for about 10-15 mins max and always follow training with play. My dog has never showed fear at me during or after training.

    I just wonder what your thoughts are on the matter and please keep in mind that I am not attacking you or your way of training. I just wanted to say that choker can and does work without hurting or damaging your dog


    Minette Reply:

    A choke chain, in truth, can do much more damage than a prong or pinch collar, actually. Ask your veterinarian how dangerous they can be. I once saw a dog that was corrected so hard with the choke chain that it popped a nerve in his face and made his eye droop like he had had a stroke… the owner claimed the dog ran to the end of the collar and she didn’t mean to… but that was enough to make me not want to use them.

    Although they can be appropriately used, I rarely see them used correctly, most often they are holding to their name sake and “choking”.

    A snap, is indeed a physical correction. If I snapped you with a choke chain on your neck or a whip (just a snap) it would hurt and also be a correction. I am also not attacking you, I am just stating a fact, choke chains are meant for corrections and “choking” the dog for at least a second or two. If a “snap” or a “pop” was all that was needed, you could use a buckle collar but that too would be a correction or coercion or force.

    If your dog NEEDS a treat you are misusing treats. It is not about bribery it is about psychology and learning theory and jackpots and intermittent reinforcement. Read this article for misusing treats.

    You get paid to work?! Your dog should get paid to work for you and if he does, he doesn’t need the choke.

    My dogs work for me in the beginning because they want the reward (treat, toy) then they learn that they like working for me and I condition them to listen to me. I become more exciting than the squirrel and everything else that goes on around them and they work for that jackpot.

    There are not enough hugs (dogs don’t like hugs btw) and good boys in the world to keep a dog from wanting to chase a squirrel; but there are treats, or a game of ball that can keep a dog from chasing a squirrel.

    And, in my experience, choke chains lead to prong collars which lead to more physical corrections and pain.

    I prefer to get my dogs to work for me because they want to and they like it and I am conditioning happiness and joy and there is no conflict.

    And, I have many, many blue ribbons on my wall to prove that that is all they need to perform a stellar obedience performance not only at my house but also at a busy dog show full of distractions 🙂


  5. Bodie Willmot says:

    Thank you for your reply
    I do agree with almost everything you are saying
    I guess it’s a shame I don’t live in the states. I would be able to show you how well he is trained and how happy he is. He is my first dog, a Doberman and one of the paramedics I work with was a very experienced dog handler for the navy so she showed me how to use a choker appropriately. I have no need to progress to a prong or worse methods of training because he knows his place and what is required/wanted of him and he does it in a way that suggests he just wants to please. Which he definately does.

    I’m not suggesting your well proven way doesn’t work or that your dogs aren’t better trained than my Red however I’ve only had him 3 months and of course you are probably always going to be better and more experienced at dog training given it’s your profession and hobby.

    Thanks again for your time


  6. Margaretta says:

    It’s great to see this useful post on dog training. I have a concern however.
    How do you train an older dog?


    Minette Reply:

    Same way you would train a puppy. Do a search in the bar on the right about 1/4 way down for training older dogs or whatever you are specifically looking for.


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