The Cognitive Canine

Relationship is a buzzword in dog training, especially right now. Researching for this blog I found that the word has a lot of formal definitions. This one is my favorite: the state of being connected. 

So what does it mean to have a relationship with a dog? Does the relationship we have with a dog affect our training of them? Does the training affect the relationship? What does it actually mean to have a relationship with a nonverbal species?

In science-based animal training we often put words like “relationship” and even “love,” through the science wood chipper. That’s the thing that breaks down concepts and ideas until they are in manageable, understandable pieces. When we do this we find out that a good relationship with a dog is little more than a history of reinforcement. Which means that a broken relationship might be a history of punishment, or even a…

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