I am someone who is trained in behavior modification in various species, who has trained animals professionally.
A lot of the methods in ABA have been deemed to be too cruel to use on animals for years, but are still being used on human children.
I no longer train animals.
I gave up animal training because people want compliant animals that don’t think for themselves. They want you to break the spirit of their animal and that broke my heart. It breaks my heart to know people want the same about Autistic Children.
I now teach animals how to communicate with us and do the work to understand how they are communicating in ways that we might miss if we’re not paying attention.
Words are not the only thing you can use to communicate. With animals the way their body moves tells you everything.
We don’t bark orders at our dogs. I encourage them to communicate their needs to us.
We give them choices and ask them questions and wait for answers and permission to do things like pick them up – or let them in or out.
My views on behaviorism have shifted greatly over the years.
My feelings are far from the excitement and joy that I had when animal behavior sciences were one earliest obsessions, at the age of 11 when I got my first dog many years ago.
Compliance based programs stifle creative thought. They force obedience. They crush. They destroy.
I now look at behaviorists and worry, even more so when they turn their focus to human subjects.
I am no longer a dog trainer. I don’t work with dogs anymore.
We’ve adopted four of our own, and are working to give them the happiest lives we can, while teaching them as much as they are willing and able to learn along the way.
The more we learn to communicate with, and empower them, the better their quality of life (and ours) will be.
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With gratitude, Lyric