Why I Left Behaviorism Behind & Quit Dog Training

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It’s important that we all understand, that as Autistic People, there is not a unified autistic experience. We all have different opinions and very different experience, and I think it’s great to share those things.

If you’re a NeuroTypical watching, remember that this is just my experience as a NeuroDivergent Person.


All right. I did a post on Facebook recently, talking about how I used to be a dog trainer and how I used to really, really love behaviorism, believe it or not.

I was really into this stuff in elementary school, fourth, fifth grade. So early nineties or in the nineties, I was really into this stuff.

I am a reformed behaviorist. I no longer use behaviorism on animals, and now my focus is entirely on teaching the animals around me to communicate with me, and that I am a safe person and how to get their needs met.

So has been quite a change, and you wanted to hear more about that. So those of you that asked for this video, or if you’re curious now… please stay tuned.

So first let’s talk about why I was really into behaviorism, and animal training, and animal behavior in elementary school, because that’s kind of weird for fourth and fifth graders, right?

Well, some of you who may know me already, if you’re not new, may realize that I am Autistic. Uh, and so that is why I was really into, this very specific thing, as a young person.

Uh, autistic people, we sometimes can have these interests that tend to be in very intense, uh, for us and often with Autistic young people, they’re in interests that would be considered.. and I’m going to put this in air quotes “inappropriate for the grade level or inappropriate for age level” – inappropriate, according to who, right?

When compared to the neurotypical peers. Uh, and so some of my interests that would have been inappropriate for grade level would have been one, like being really obsessed with behaviorism in fourth and fifth grade, and also being really into human psychology. And when I was 11 and in middle school, like being really overly into like reading the DSM. Like that is not something a lot of middle school kids do.

So having these really specific interests in first animal behavior, and then that evolved into actually human behavior as well. Uh, so that’s why. I was so into these things, as a young person.

I got into behaviorism and animal training, because I loved animals and I wanted to be able to communicate with animals, and I thought this would be helpful to animals, despite the fact that it was actually harmful. I didn’t know this was harmful.

Once I learned this was harmful, I left and stopped training animals, because what I found out was the animals didn’t need to be trained, it was people that needed to be trained, to understand animals, better.

Animals are just animals. They exist. They’re they’re great how they are, but the the training, the training is often focused on shaping an animal to be more palatable to humans, and making animals less of an inconvenience on humans.

Meanwhile, humans would often do very little to make themselves less of an inconvenience on their animals. They wouldn’t put in any effort to learn, to communicate how animals communicate or to read animal body language, because animals do communicate a lot. They don’t communicate always with words.

Although my dogs know in a lot of words, now that we work on words and communication over everything else, but the behaviorist methods really where preventing me from appreciating the innate intelligence that is present in every single creature, human or non-human.

I got sucked in as someone who loved science. I thought this was the science.

It went against my principle beliefs that animals are our equals. I was always raised to believe that animals are not some kind of a lesser to a human and we need to treat them with respect. They are autonomous beings. When I realized that behaviorism went against all of that, I left it very quickly, and I quit working with animals because I also realized that a lot of the people that were coming to get “dog training” didn’t want me to help them learn, to communicate with their dogs, or build a better relationship with their dogs, they just wanted me to help them bend their dogs into a less annoying thing to them.

People see their dogs, and their animals as these pets, as if they are something that is here for their amusement only, and entertainment only. They treat them more like property than an autonomous being.

Whereas I see our four dogs as four furry children we are responsible for being the custodians over, because legally they can’t take care of themselves.

What I do now with our dogs is, I just try to teach them how to communicate with me, and I just try to communicate with them. That’s all I do. I don’t train them anymore. I do teach language.

So, for example, if we were in the house, when we had a house, when we would go up the stairs, every time we would go up the stairs, I would say, “let’s go upstairs” and eventually they learned what “let’s go upstairs” ment.

Every time they would go outside, and I would take them outside, I would say, “let’s go outside” – they learned what “going outside” means.

 Then, once they know those words and phrases, it gets to the point where I can say, do you want to go out? Or are you, I’m not going to say the word. That means H U N G a R Y. Did I spell that? Right? I can’t spell, I don’t know if I spelled that right. But if I say that word right now, it’s around the time where they have that food thing where they e-a-t. That’s another word I can’t say.

If I say those words, they’ll say yes, I would like those things right now, and I’d have to stop filming the video, because they know a lot of words, because I have just stop trying to teach them anything, except for the word.

That’s all we teach now. That’s it. I don’t teach anything else.

I just teach them words, and I asked them what they need, and they will tell me, if I listen, with my eyes. With the dogs, I’m listening with my eyes, mostly, and how they visibly responding to me.

Learning their body language. That’s the most important thing with dogs and animals is learning to read animal body language.

It’s a skill I’ve just had, since I was a kid, so I take that for granted a lot. Uh, but you can develop the ability to read animals.

It’s kind of funny. I have this ability to read animals, but I don’t know how to read people’s body language and facial expressions. I don’t know how that happened.

Any other Autistic People relate to that? Drop a comment. Let me know.

Every time I talk about leaving dog training, because the methods that were used were harmful. People ask what methods were harmful?

 Well, remember I started dog training in nineties, methods were evolving at that time and have changed a lot since then, and things that are considered, or were considered appropriate in the nineties are some of these things are no longer used today in dog training, and haven’t been used for quite some time.

There is a practice where you learn everything about what dogs enjoy, what motivates the dog. If they really love food, if they really love a ball, if-

I was wondering if we’re going to get a reaction from that word, but she’s distracted.

If they really love snuggles, whatever it is, they love- you find out what the dog loves and you use that thing you withhold that thing from them, their special interest, as it were.

 You only give them that thing, as a reward for good behavior, so they can only have their special thing, when they are acting their best. You are withholding the things they love from them for work.

That’s a bit problematic. The other thing that, you know, just for example, off the top of my head, because I’m trying to keep this video short and concise, uh, is a problematic thing in, in dog training is sometimes people say, “I want the dog to stop doing this thing”.

So it’ll be like a goal they’ll pick, for the dog, and often the thing is something that is a very natural thing for dogs to do.

Like maybe, you know, “I don’t want this dog to ever bark”, well, dogs, bark. It’s one of the ways they communicate.

So we teach this dog not to bark and then, you know, one day the dog bites someone “out of nowhere”.

The dog never barked or growled, because you taught the dog not to bark growl, so it never warned you that it was uncomfortable, because it was afraid to do that, because you trained it not to barke or growl – because barking or growling was annoying to the non-dog people, the non dogs.

There’s lots of barking and growling going on with our dogs.

That’s why there are- one reason, there were lots of cuts in these videos. I’m working in an RV with four dogs.

Dogs, bark. They all bark all four of my dogs bark, because their dogs. I have learned that I can ask them to come to me, and I can help soothe them and calm them down, if there is something that has triggered the barking.

 My, my, my- Dusty Dog will come to me and put his head in my lap, and be like, “I don’t want to look out the window at that thing that’s going to make me bark. Please help me love me so I can stop barking, this is too much!’

And he’ll Come to me, and I will hug him, and it’s like, “it’s okay, let me help you not bark”.

But that’s because now they know I’m the safe person. “I can make you feel safe. I will co- I will cuddle you until everything is all better, because you’re a dog and you bark. That’s cool.”

I’ll be like, “Oh, okay, you’re barking. Hey, what is it? What do you see? Thanks for letting me know. That’s great. Okay. Let’s calm down now. Come here, come here. Let’s go do something else.”

Oh, I see. It’s a dog. Yeah. This is exciting. Hey guys, come on. Let’s not do that. Come on,Sadie, listen. Good job. You told me about it. Thank you. Thank you.

Wanna come up here? Up, up, up, up, up. Yeah. Can you come up here? Yeah!

Thank you for telling me about the dog over there? You told me, you told me. I love you. Kisses. Lots of kisses. You love kisses. Yes. I love kisses too. Thank you.

This is super smart, Sadie. Yes. That’s your name? Sadie. Sadie knows a lot of words. Sadie knows the most words. You do. Because Sadie listens, even when we’re not talking to her, right.

Right Sadie, you listen, even when we’re not talking to you. Yeah. Cause you like language. Yes. You like words. You know what I’m talking about you. Yeah.

For those of you asking how you can be better friends to the animals in your life, stop looking at them from the deficit’s point of view “animals can’t possibly have these complex emotions, animals can’t do this animals can’t understand that.” Let’s throw that out the window.

I look at my animal friends from the perspective of woof. They are so excited today. All right, Sadie. Thank you.

I look at them from the perspective of, they are capable of more than I understand, and I can’t possibly understand their perspective, but I’m going to do my best to go with them and let them lead me into their world.

That’s my advice. That’s it. Let your animals lead you, and realize they understand probably a lot more than we even understand that they understand.

And just because animals don’t speak with words, the way people do, with our mouths, it doesn’t mean they’re not speaking.

A lot of the way animals speak is in their body language, how they hold their ears, how they move their bodies, how they wiggle.

Animals are talking to us, we just need to listen. So listen, that’s the advice. That’s it, listen by looking, watch. Listen with your eyes and let your animals lead you.

That’s it. That’s all I’m going to say about dogs and dog training, and animal training this week is that they don’t need training. People need to do the work to bridge the gap and overcome the communication differences.

This was supposed to be a 10 minute video and here we are, I’ve done it for another 15 minute video. That’s what happens when I do these things without a script, this is dangerous.

Let me know if you liked this video, drop a comment, uh, or if it was just too wrong- too long and too rambly, or if you want me to do more longer videos, and if the longer format is okay. I’d love to know.

A special thank you to my Patreon, subscribers and supporters on YouTube and Facebook subscribers, wherever you are. Uh, those monetary subscribers helped me to pay for the web hosting, closed captioning, and transcriptioning software.

I’m going to go transcribe this video, which is going to take several hours, because I added an extra five minutes to it.

But I couldn’t be doing this, at all, without your help, and without the software that I use to transcribe the videos.

I have auditory processing disorder. I do not hear things, word for word. So transcribing something is impossible for me. So when I say “I couldn’t do this without the help of supporters and viewers like you” I literally mean I could not be doing this blog of this quality content with my subs- supporters.

So I am so grateful for each and every one of you, whether you’re a mandatory monetary supporter or you are a supporter that shares my content, and engages with the content, and adds your comments, your thoughts. You are so incredibly valuable. Your questions are as valuable as anything else and so are your thoughts, and your feedback.

Thank you so much all for being here. I will see you all next Wednesday and till next time later, humans, and non-humans. Later creatures!

I can change that- later creatures. That’s what people are going to- people won’t get it. People won’t get it.

Later creatures!


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With gratitude,


5 thoughts on “Why I Left Behaviorism Behind & Quit Dog Training

  1. Kind of random, but I’ve been following your stuff for years and I think this is the first time I’ve been able to actually watch one of the videos?

    So huge thank you from me also to all the supporters who made the transcripts possible, but also so good to be able to see you and listen to you because it’s just so much MORE when I can hear your voice or see your expressions.

  2. Thsnk you do much for transcribing this, I struggle with taking in the information from speech videos, the visuals are just too distracting! Totally with you on this, I’ve had dogs since I was in my teens, and I’m 74 now, and I stopped “training” my dogs in that sense decades ago, and looked more closely at how dogs communicated with each other. Now I treat my dogsxtgecsame way you do, as intelligent family members, who sometimes need a little patient listening!

  3. yes, it is easier to listen to the facial and body language of animals, because they don’t lie. Humans, lots of times, are lying and don’t even know it, because we’ve evolved this silly talent of lying to ourselves. It’s hard to know what someone means from their face/body language when those things so often don’t match their interior experience.

  4. Most people around me are amoused at how well I commuicate with animals, even one of my ex-gf’s used to say i spoke “animal”. I find it easy to read animal body language, specially since we’ve had cats since i was 6 months old. I grew up communicating with animals. I teach my dogs how to sit and do some “tricks” but honestly, i don’t know how i did it. My oldest dog knows when we are going out and he tells me when he wants to go out. We have conversations during our walks or at home.

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