Why Cruelty Does Not Pay
The reason I do not agree with physical punishment toward dogs is because I find it cruel and consider this to be poor and lazy training, and to the dog and your own self detriment. Training with physical punishment/correction, whatever one wants to call the hitting of their dogs, does not even give you a better dog than if it was trained with Kindness, Respect, good Tones of voice, practise and Good Timing.
I shall explain why
If one listens to some trainers/handlers they will tell you how they will allow the dog to run in after the dummies up to the age of 10 months or even older in some cases, this is (they believe) needed to create drive and also (mainly) because until then the dog would not be able to take the physical correction that is about to be given to them by the trainer/handler.
When the dog reaches that age/maturity/size the trainer/handler will then teach the dog to sit/stop and not run in for the retrieval item anymore, and of course by then the young dog has been happily running after everything that the person has thrown for the dog and therefore it has become a very strong habit, and as we know, even for ourselves, Habit are hard to break.
The way they will teach the dog at that stage of its life is by harsh methods, some will hit the dog, some will shake the dog and some will do both to the dog, and I have even seen a dog being booted for it, terrible. All of these actions done under the title of 'correction, a negative, teaching', all softer words than the actual acts themselves, the true words that should be used are 'Hitting, kicking and/or physical punishment'. They will not use the correct words as they know the correct words depict the act in its true light while the other words sound softer and kinder and give them (they believe) an 'excuse, reason, justification' for training in that manner.
All this to teach a dog to no longer run in after the dummy until given permission to do so, to teach a sit basically, just a sit, an easy task but one the dog being trained in this way will not get right for quite a while as it will keep moving (often than not) towards the Handler/trainer to appease that person and prevent the continuous hitting. Sadly the trainer/handler will more than likely read the dog wrong and see the dogs movement as a sign of defiance/ naughtiness or both, from then on in the dog will lose out.
The trainer/handlers method will have to be done until the dog no longer moves from the sit, which can go on for weeks/months just to teach the sit in that position, and then of course the dog has to be taught to sit in different environments and under different temptations, so this method of training would have to be carried out on many occasions. This can become a battle the dog greatly loses as the more times the trainer/handler hits the dog the harder the dog wishes to stop that person hitting it and therefore the dog keeps moving forward towards that person to appease and prevent the next hit.
In the old days people called this 'breaking dogs' as some trainers were not capable of nurturing a dogs natural drive so therefore had to let it run riot, and then when they believed it was old enough to withstand the beating, well then they would beat it.
By allowing a dog to keep running in creates a habit, and as we know habits are so hard to 'Break'!
Dogs trained in this way will often drop to the ground, which is the desired effect the trainer/handler is after, and you may think that to be good, BUT, this method has not been thought through because...
if a dog drops in fear because he knows previously he has been hit
when the whistle was blown, the dog will drop and look to see where the Trainer/Handler is and then look away in fear and then back at the handler in fear unsure what to do to appease the trainer/handler to prevent what the dog knows may be coming, which is a hit, a shake or a boot.
But the dog has to try and work out 'Why' is it being hit, Again another fault in this method of training. From the dogs point of view, when one corrects/hits a dog like this how is the dog meant to know which particular act it is getting hit for? The dog is hugging the ground, so could it be that? The dog looked at the trainer/handler, so could it be that? The dog looked away from the trainer/handler, so could it be that? Is the dog being hit for the movement towards the trainer/handler? or is the dog being hit for not sitting, or is he being hit for not staying?? All this while the dog is shutting down, for how can it think about what you are teaching it when 1) It does not know which part of the exercise it is getting wrong 2) Its mind is full of all the above thoughts.
It has been proven that a fearful dogs shuts down mentally, to a degree, and because of this the dog isn't able to take in the lesson, to varying degrees, or in the case of gundogs, be able to focus on looking for where the bird is landing, a priority for our gundogs.
If you train with kindness however and nurture the dogs drive and enjoyment of retrieving, teaching as the pup grows to sit and then continue the training to not running in, you will have a dog that sits (not lays down) and therefore can and will look all around for where the bird has dropped if he/she has heard the gun go off, or if no gun goes off to look for the handler to find out what the handler wants, its mind is totally open and free from fear of what the trainer/handler may do to it, it has nothing else on its mind at that time apart from the task at hand and you.
In my opinion you will get a far better trained dog if you train with common sense and kindness. To allow a dog to keep doing something that you will hit it for when it comes to a certain age does not create a dog with more drive than a dog taught with kindness and common sense. You will have wasted 10 months of its life, you would have missed the opportunity of teaching the dog as it grows many different things that will make a well rounded gundog.
Train a dog kindly and with common sense and you will have a dog that goes like a rocket, listens happily to it's owner and marks wonderfully well for it is not flat out on the floor waiting to be hit!
To say 'to train with Kindness means one will lose drive' is ridiculous, I have heard this being said, in fact it is the opposite. To hit dogs knowing that they will forgive you in a heartbeat is cruel, and as I have pointed out, detrimental to your training of your Gundog.
Even if you take one picture/snapshot shall we say of the two different types of training let it be this...
A dog flat on the ground, Fearful with part of its brain occupied with thoughts of what it has done wrong and will it get Hit
A dog sitting up free from fear, so clear of mind, looking everywhere for that bird, as in the video below.
Being Gundog breeds, so full of life and wanting to please, both dogs once released from the sit command may get up wagging their tails, but the one that was taught with kindness once the release command is given is off like a shot to retrieve the bird it marked, while the dog taught by hitting it is left confused as it didn't even see the bird as it was to busy thinking about the punishment that was to come!
Thankfully there are many Good trainers so Alfinmarsh pups stay away from Bad/Lazy/cruel trainers, please. Go to good kind trainers and have a dog sitting up, wide eyed and fully focused at the task to hand.