IS IT PURELY POSITIVE TRAINING WHEN THE SOLUTION IS EUTHANASIA?
– This is very personal to me. Why? Because I have a beautiful dog in my care, that was “literally” one hour from euthanasia. I picked her up at 3pm not knowing that her appointment was at 4pm. Onyx (name changed for privacy), my beautiful black lab mix, is why I do what I do.
Her owners were in tears at the time I arrived. According to her owners, she was a dog with an extensive list of issues. Onyx was 5 years old and had been with them since she was a young pup. I listened carefully to all of their concerns. I offered training as a reprieve for 30 days…they declined. I believed I was her only hope and knew that I could help her.
Time for training Onyx! I am a Balanced Trainer. What is “balanced training”? In its simplest form, Balanced Dog Training refers to any approach to dog training or behavior modification which involve the use of both reward based techniques and aversive consequences. In other words, the trainer shows the dog that their choices and behaviors can result in either pleasant or unpleasant results.
Positive reinforcement is awesome and it should be an important part of ANY training or teaching approach. However, is that the whole conversation? Should we really just reward the good and ignore the bad? And if that doesn’t work…….is all hope lost…no matter how hard you tried…..what now? For my girl, it was euthanasia.
What if someone told you to put down your dog, because a methodology of “never say no” and said your dog was too far gone? If you’re trying so hard with your dog in one style of training – if you’re frustrated – if you’re scared – if you’re ready to give up – please know there are other methods, techniques, tools and approaches out there.
I and many others, believe that NO ONE gets a dog with the intention to become frustrated, discouraged, and defeated when the training style they are dedicating themselves to isn’t working. No one who loves their dog and has dedicated so much time, effort, emotion, and heart wants to give them up or (worst case scenario) put them down…but when folks are told that they have no other options or a different training style is going to “make things worse or ruin their dog” folks feel like they have no hope.
Onyx, my lab mix, is now 6 years old and was to be euthanized, because her owners were so discouraged and felt defeated. Her life is very different today…she’s a very outgoing dog that loves to live life and thrives off of structure and knowing whether her choices are the right ones.