Recently, I am frequently accused of being NICE to my dogs.
I have also been accused of being NICE and overly polite to people.
This made me wonder … When did NICE become something negative that we accuse someone of?
Ok I admit it, I am nice to my dogs. I try to be nice to them as much as I can, so that they get to enjoy a good quality of life. They must follow certain rules for their own safety, but by working with me, they get paid with a variety of “good stuff” throughout the day.
I guess I just do not see why I should use negative techniques such as poking at them, pushing them down, or growling at them. Negative communication does not work well on people either, so being ‘nice’ is actually effective for both dogs and humans.
Why is being NICE so bad?
I suppose it comes from a misguided belief that if we are NICE, people and dogs will somehow disrespect us, and crap all over us. If we are nice, our dog will win, and then we will be an awful dog owner.
I do not think we need to cultivate an antagonistic, winner takes all relationship, with our dog. It is healthier to foster a more cooperative relationship – where the both of us work together, and the both of us win. After all, our dog is not an enemy that we must defeat, and keep defeating over and over again.
Rolled into all this, is the notion that using food in training is wrong, bad, and bribery. Somehow the dog’s only motivation should be to do ‘everything’ out of love, and only love for us.
I truly do not understand this.
I respect my dogs and trust them as independent, thinking entities. They have a variety of motivations for doing the range of things that they do. Some of these motivations have nothing to do with me at all. They are not robots or slaves who follow my every whim, and my every command. Most of the time they are motivated by their own needs, as we are.
All dogs need short term motivators to reinforce good behaviors, or ‘punish’ bad behaviors. A short term motivator can be a reward stimulus such as food, toys, affection, and freedom; or an aversive stimulus such as slaps, electric shocks, jabs, and hanging.
Short term motivators are necessary for shaping a dog’s behavior.
Both the nice way, and the not-so-nice way, can help a dog learn if properly implemented.
I choose the nice way – I admit it. In my world, nice it not bad, or wrong. When I say that someone is nice, it is not an accusation but a compliment.
Have a nice day 🙂