Mark's Dog Blog

The Avoidance Of (administering) Discomfort


Applying discomfort, why is it considered such an evil concept by positive only and force free extremists, when its one of natures most powerful learning principles to help an animal understand what to avoid and to learn boundaries? No animal or social group would survive without this learning principle.

When a Vet pushes a syringe in to a young puppy's skin to vaccinate it, isn't this administering pain/discomfort to ensure a positive outcome? Or when a Vet performs surgery and the dog has a prolonged painful or uncomfortable recovery to go through. You don't hear positive only or force free extremists screaming out abuse, because the dog is suffering some discomfort or even pain. And a discomfort the dog actually has no understanding of.

When a mother applies pressure to a puppy with her mouth to correct unacceptable behaviour, isn't this discomfort to ensure a positive outcome, by helping the puppy learn boundaries? Where are the positive only and force free extremists screams of abuse then?

When your dog is highly anxious walking on a lead dragging you down the street. Isn't the dog suffering unnecessary prolonged discomfort? Not only physically but also psychologically? When a quick correction (positive punishment) or some negative reinforcement may help the dog to snap out of its anxious distressed state and calm down, which also in-turn relieves all the prolonged physical discomfort walking on a tight lead that is restricting breathing by the pressure around its neck from a collar, or the immense prolonged discomfort from the pressure applied by a halter or no-pull harness.

If you lived in a snake prone area and you knew with absolute certainty that you could train your dog to avoid snakes by applying a 1/10 of a second static pulse from an ecollar, at a level that only startles your dog, wouldn't you agree that this is a much better option than the alternative?

Stop your dog rushing through a left open gate allowing access to a busy street when outside on its own, by applying instant feedback each time your dog approached the open gate, and it on[y took 2 or 3 sessions of applying discomfort for about 1/10 of a second, wouldn't this be better than the alternative?

Wouldn't you rather give your puppy instant feedback by applying a little discomfort, to indicate that biting the children was absolutely non-negotiable, than spending months of interrupting, redirecting or avoiding, hoping your puppy would eventually work it out, and therefore face the possibility of your child being scared for life?

Teaching your dog that recall is not an option, protecting it from dangerous situations.

Would you rather spend months of counter conditioning using only positives 'hoping' that your dog would eventually work it out, or alternatively give your dog instant feedback for behaviour that could potentially be dangerous for your dog or family?

We need to get past this idea that causing discomfort to help our dogs is such an evil and inhumane response. Those that compare applying discomfort for instant feedback as nothing but abuse, have no idea about the proper application of applying an aversive.

I would much rather inform my client that I can save their dog or family from potential harm by humanely applying instant feedback, than suggest well lets work on using positive only counter-conditioning, and hope that in a few months your dog will eventually stop this behaviour, that is potentially dangerous for your dog or family.....

If your dog fell down a drain and the only way to get it out was to use a rope with a noose around its neck to pull it up. Would you apply this discomfort to save your dog? Or would you say, no that is too cruel, best leave the dog there to drown?


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