Worldly Wisdom Wednesday – The Positive Side of Conflict

Posted By on December 5, 2012


6 Responses to “Worldly Wisdom Wednesday – The Positive Side of Conflict”

  1. Silvia Jay says:

    Interesting post and I agree with everything.

    Stress becomes overwhelming and unhealthy to body and mind if there is no solution. I see that periodically with dogs when they are micromanaged and every movement controlled, and if their communication is not understood and properly responded to. You see dogs that feel threatened and appease, but the threat continues. Or they engage in a natural behavior and are corrected for what is deeply innate.

    My feelings regarding play-fighting with dogs is mixed. I absolutely agree that interspecies physical play is possible, but in my world most laypeople don’t get it right. Often males, they initiate wrestling with often a “macho-type dog”, but they don’t have an off switch, leave the dog aroused, who is than scanning the environment for another playmate – a child or the physically weaker lady of the house. The dog is often labeled as aggressive or hyper at one point during the adolescent period and surrendered or euthanized. In addition, wrestling is often the sole way the person engages with the dog and takes the place of other bonding activities such as tracking, fetching and obedience. For that reason, I belong to the group of trainers who advice against it generally, with exceptions.

    • Randy says:

      Thank you Silvia. I hear you on the subject of stress without solution. We hold with the philosophy that we like our Dogs to be Wild – not meaning uncontrolled, just in contact with the attributes of their Dogness that brought their kind and us humans together in the first place. If you want an automaton, go buy an effing robot!

      We wholeheartedly agree that “play fighting” cannot be taken as a solitary activity to the exclusion of other forms of interaction or engagement, and the population of Dog owners contains a majority who would never really “get” it, so would be best counseled not to get involved with it at all. We advise over and over – NEVER miss a chance to train – and by that I don’t mean formalized training. Just that, as Musashi wrote, do nothing without a reason, With Dogs, everything should help solidify and/or maintain the bond and so enhance the overall experience of whatever’s going on.

      Back in the 90’s when I first started training Cinders as a puppy, she developed an incredibly destructive and painful tendency to mouth during play. At the time she was an only Dog, so this was directed at any human who played with her for even a short interval. I knew a lot less then than I know now, but I felt that it was healthier to teach her to control her bite pressure as well as to learn where and when it was appropriate to “play bite”, So instead of correcting the activity in an effort to stop it entirely, I intentionally engaged in activity with her that would bring out the mouthing behaviour and reinforced a stop on command to divert to a fun and equally engaging secondary activity – one that varied as her experience increased. This was always rewarding for her and soon the mouthing disappeared replaced with “play fighting” – only with me through most of her life, but in her later years also with Diana – only when she was presented with cues from us that we wanted to engage, and she always stopped instantly on command. This had nothing to do with a generalized mass consumption training methodology by any means. It was a means to an end for me that fixed a problem behaviour by turning it into a life long source of fun for all concerned.

  2. Silvia Jay says:

    And that’s how you apply it properly, Randy.
    I recently had a case – a young golden, lovely dog and typically golden-sweet, unless she has a hold on something, for example a tug toy. She instantly goes into clamp-down and very vicious shaking – and I am talking about prey kill motor pattern serious. Unfortunately she did that to her new puppy brother, and that’s why I was called in.
    Because it is nearly impossible to prevent her from ever having anything in her mouth, I taught her inhibition. Some more work to do, of course, including dealing with resource guarding against that puppy and other dogs, but she clued in quickly.

    By the way, sorry about the grammar mistakes in my last comment. It was early in the morning. Not really, but I use that as an excuse anyway.

    • Randy says:

      What grammar mistakes Silvia? I just re-read your comment and found that, as usual, you write divinely!

  3. […] “The more I’ve studied the application of fighting arts and delivering lethality, the more I came to eschew the posturings of “toughness” and implied violence. I always laugh at the old saying that you should never fight with an old man because if he’s too old to fight, he’ll just kill you. It carries a solid element of truth at its core methinks. Study your methods and tools, train, and don’t fight unless your predetermined limit is reached. Then it’s all in – the way animals do. Fighting is counterproductive and wasteful – NOT at one with the Way of the Wild as a point in and of itself, but as a necessary element of survival that must be learned by everything that walks, swims, slithers, or flies, each in its own way.” ~ Worldly Wisdom Wednesday – The Positive Side of Conflict […]

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