Some time ago, I was pointed to a dog trainer’s site. When I checked it out, I was greeted with picture after picture of a row of dogs, doing perfect synchronized Sits and Downs, and giving perfect attention to their trainer.
This trainer and many others, proudly proclaim that dogs must follow all of our commands, no matter how inane, pointless, or stupid.
Blind-loyalty is the order of the day, and apparently the only way that we can feel secure of our dog’s love.
Anything else, is an indication of our failure as a dog trainer, and dog owner.
All those dogs, sitting in a row like ducks.
They all look in the same direction, get up together on command, run together on command, but always staying one step behind their God-like trainer. Suddenly, they all stop, their trainer had sneezed.
Ah, relief. The sneezing fit has passed, and a new command is issued. They all drop down, with synchronized precision. Then, as one, they all turn to wait for the next word from their God-trainer.
There was something terribly eerie about the whole scene – it reminded me of The Stepford Wives.
Dog Control and Stepford Dogs
If our desire is to own a Stepford dog, then there are several available currently. There is the Mio from Hasbro, Tekno from Manley, or WowWee Wrex from WowWee.
True, our scientists have not yet perfected fur quality, or grace in movement, but these Stepford dogs can be perfectly controlled from a distance. We do not need to give them any food, they come potty trained, and already understand a list of basic commands.
There will never be any nuisance barking, no chewing on our shoes and rugs, no drooling, farting, licking, biting, or pawing; unless we program them to do so. Then, we can just activate the behavior that we want, with a click of our remote controller – no muss, no fuss.
The Mio, Tekno, and WowWee, sitting in a row like ducks. Look at how they behave in response to our clicks. Don’t we feel powerful now –
Our very own Stepford dogs, that are under our total and absolute control.
Is Total Dog Control Necessary?
But what if we want a furry Stepford dog. One that moves more gracefully, is cute, furry, warm blooded, and is actually a living thing – with needs and goals of his own.
How can we turn one of those furry warm-blooded dogs, into a remote-control dog?
Perhaps a better question to ask is …
Why would we want to turn a perfectly delightful real dog, who is independent, unique, and special, into a robotic Stepford dog?
I suppose the independent spirit, really gets in the way of our synchronized precision work. All it takes is one rebel, who prefers to look at a squirrel instead of his trainer, to spoil our whole choreographic masterpiece.
Since synchronized obedience is so crucial to our dog-human relationship, let us consider how to create a Furry Stepford dog.
How to Create a Perfectly Controlled Dog
Ok, now on to the important stuff. How does one go about converting a regular dog, into a perfectly controlled dog?
First of all, the independent spirit has to go.
How does one go about destroying an independent spirit?
There are an array of methods to choose from.
The best way, is to do it quickly, with a single traumatic event. The event must be extremely powerful and stressful, so that it will break our subject’s spirit, and turn him into a Furry Stepford Dog.
A trainer once relayed to me, how she achieved this amazing feat, with a Shiba Inu that was under her care. If you have ever lived with a Shiba Inu, you will know that they are charming dogs, but they can be extremely strong-willed, stubborn, and mischievous. In this case, subject Shiba was up to something, as most Shibas usually are.
In response to some digging and whining in the backyard, the SCT (Stepford Certified Trainer) gave Shiba multiple hard corrections with a choke chain, pinned Shiba to the ground, and growled at him. Shiba pooped and peed all over the place, and from then on, became a perfectly controlled Shiba.
Actually, it is more accurate to call him a perfectly controlled dog, because there were no longer any Shiba characteristics left.
Are Fully Controlled Dogs Happy?
In a way they are.
Stepford wives have a certain type of bliss, and I imagine Stepford dogs have the same. There can be a certain type of comfort in a robotic existence, because everything that we do is fully determined by someone else. We do not have to make any decisions, pursue our own goals, or take responsibility for our actions.
Stepford dogs are outwardly calm, show no aggression, do not bark or make any other noise, and will roll on the grass on command, to simulate a joyful demeanor. I suppose that is a certain type of happiness.
Are fully controlled Stepford dogs happier than regular dogs?
That would depend on the regular dog. Stray dogs certainly have a tough life. Other dogs are neglected, or simply left in the prison of their backyard, with little human attention, and nothing to do. Others may even get starved, kicked, or abused.
It is a tough life for some dogs.
If I had to guess, I would say that a Stepford dog has a better existence, than many of these neglected, abused, or stray dogs.
Luckily, there are also many dogs that are properly trained, exercised, and who share a relationship of mutual trust and respect with their human companions. Are Stepford dogs happier than these dogs?
Probably not. These true companion dogs have their spirit intact. They are properly trained and managed, so that they can live a life where they make their own choices, and need not participate in any synchronized activity, unless they choose to.
Rules and Discipline
This is not to say that we should let our dogs do whatever they want, and run around free range in the neighborhood, or even in our house.
All dogs need some rules, structure, and routine. High strung dogs need this even more, because a consistent routine will let them know what to expect from us, and from their environment. With a fixed routine, they will be less prone to stress and stress issues, such as separation anxiety.
It is also important to set up a consistent way of communication with our dog, so that we can teach him what are desirable behaviors, and what are undesirable behaviors. Training good behaviors and stopping bad behaviors, can be effectively achieved with reward dog training.
Total Control vs. No Control
One of the raging debates in the dog training arena, involves exactly this issue of control.
How much control should we exert over our dogs?
Some proponents of the total control camp, want to make the debate about total control vs. no control. Either our dog is a Stepford dog, or he is an accident waiting to happen.
Do not be fooled by this fake argument.
Between total control and no control, are a wide range of possibilities – those are not the only two options. The choice in dog training is not between a Stepford dog or an out-of-control dog, but rather between total control, and a reasonable level of control.
Careful management, combined with reward training is all that we need …
- To keep our dog safe.
- To teach him how to greet and interact with humans.
- To stop bad behaviors.
- To make him happy.
- To earn his love, loyalty, and respect.
Dogs are independent, living beings, with needs and goals of their own. Dogs are not robots that only eat and poop when we tell them to, and otherwise stay in a Down position by our feet.
My dogs are my companions. I am only their boss when I need to be, for their safety and happiness.
If we want a Stepford dog, then get one that is battery operated from Amazon. If we want a real dog, then do not try and make him into a Stepford dog.
Almost all of the dog training techniques we use today are based on operant conditioning principles. These techniques can be used to modify bad behavior and shape good behavior. We consider what operant conditioning means, and why it is so important in dog training.
Is dog dominance real, or a myth? Does dominance cause most bad dog behaviors? How do we deal with a dominant dog? We consider dog dominance - what is fact and what is fiction.
Dogs are not human. They do not learn in exactly the same way that we learn, nor do they think in exactly the same way as we think. Here, we consider how dogs think, and how they learn. By observing our dogs and expanding our knowledge of their behavior, we can better communicate with them and [...]