Over a year ago, I was at a party in a city about an hour from where I live. Someone who ‘knew’ all about dog training proceeded to tell me how wonderful a certain abusive (well known, televised) trainer is, and how he himself ‘trained’ his dogs. He laughed and scoffed when I told him I was a positive reinforcement trainer.
This story isn’t about him.
It’s about the teacher who overheard the conversation and decided to try to apply some of the concepts I was attempting to convey to ‘Mr. I-Bully-My-Dogs.’ We hadn’t spoken at the party – I wasn’t there long enough to be introduced.
He was working with a special needs child. That little girl LOVED, LOVED, LOVED to roller skate. It was the only activity that brought her joy.
Based on what he heard about positive reinforcement training that night – reward the behavior you want, and (in essence) ‘don’t see’ what you don’t want – the teacher decided to ignore ‘bad’ behavior and only see good. Instead of reprimanding the kid for acting out, he told the girl that for each minute she was good, she earned a minute of roller skating.
Over the course of the year, the child was transformed. Her behavior at home, in public, at school was so improved, she was ‘unrecognizable’ due to her happiness and good manners.
I got a call from a complete stranger – and it took some sleuthing to find me – thanking me for talking about dog training techniques.