Dog training shouldn’t involve punishment, fear

To the Editor:

I just finished reading Cameron Miller’s column about his experiences in a dog-training class (Times, Dec. 9).

As a longtime dog trainer, I want him and your readers to know that there is a much better way to train dogs that does not involve harsh punishments or fear. In fact, those training methods run the risk of creating more behavioral problems than they help.

Training should be fun for both the human and canine partners in the team, and based on sound learning theory. The goal of training is to create a relationship built on trust and respect as two different species learn to communicate and live together in harmony. There is no end of fun that can be had with a dog trained with positive methods.

I want to urge all people to train their dogs, but to find a class that fosters a positive relationship, not one based on fear of punishments. Do your homework and find classes based on positive training methods, and feel free to walk away or refuse to comply with any trainer who instructs you to do anything to your dog that causes fear or discomfort. There is a better way!

Dogs contribute so much to human existence. The least we can do is treat them with dignity and respect.

Happy training!

PATRICIA WILTSE

Stanley

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