I have never heard a trainer say, "The clicker doesn't hurt." nor "Praise and treats don't hurt."
I have seen trainers do aversive things to dogs while reminding the pet
parent, "I'm not hurting him, I'm just getting his attention." or "This
is the same way the dog's mother would do it" or "This is what wolves
would do." or "I'm just simulating a bite."
If someone tells you, "It doesn't hurt," stop and really think for a minute:
Are we assuming it doesn't hurt just because the dog doesn't yelp or
cry or fight back? How many humans are walking around in pain and not
showing it (headaches, backaches, toothaches, etc..)? Just because we
don't express pain, doesn't mean it doesn't hurt.
aversive actions don't physically hurt the dog (how do we know?), but
does the action scare the dog? Is the activity uncomfortable? Does it
hurt your relationship with your dog?
Some trainers might show that performing an action on themselves proves that the same action doesn't hurt the dog.
Many people outweigh their dogs by over 100 pounds. It would be like
the difference between slapping a 150 pound man and slapping a 20 pound
child. Additionally, the human knows what's going on and is prepared for
Some people demonstrate shock collars by putting them on their wrist, but then put them on a dog's neck - a much more sensitive area.
The next time someone says, "It doesn't hurt," ask yourself:
How do I know it it doesn't hurt?
Does it scare the dog?
Does it make the dog think I'm going ot hurt her?
Does this make my dog fear me?
What does this do to our relationship in the long term?
If it doesn't hurt or frighten the dog, how does it work?
Is there an alternative?
Have you been using aversive training methods (jabbing, poking, yanking, shocking, slapping, spritzing, kicking, alpha rolling,
etc..)? Would you like to know some alternatives? Tell us about it in the comments section below. We might have some ideas.
Email general questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
We recommend "Bones Would Rain From the Sky" by Suzanne Clothier. A great book for pet parents who want to deepen their relationship with their dogs(s)