Striving to Stay Positive (in Dog Training)

As regards training, and talking about training.


Whole Dog Journal editor Nancy Kerns

Did you know there are still “Nazis” fighting a war? Supposedly, the war is in the dog world, and it’s being fought for the hearts and minds of dog owners over training methods. Apparently, the Nazis – they are scornfully referred to as “Pozzie Nazis” – are on one side, and people who call themselves “balanced” – but who are derided as “brute force trainers” – are on the other. Well, folks, call us Switzerland, because we just won’t fight. Give peace a chance, shall we?

In this publication, we are openly biased toward so-called positive dog training, a.k.a. dog-friendly training, a.k.a. non-force training . . . you get the idea. We strongly believe that you don’t need force or pain to train a dog, and while we recognize that force and pain can be effective in training, in our opinion, it’s not moral, ethical, or defensible.

That said, we make it a point to refrain from denigrating those who use force and or/pain to train dogs. It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to advocate training methods that stress respect, learning theory, and kindness, and then go out of one’s way to bash anyone who trains differently.

Some people enjoy discussion and debate about the pros and cons of various dog-training methods, and will gladly spend days composing long emails that attempt to explain or defend their favorite training techniques. We are not those people. We’d rather just promote the methods that we admire and recommend, based on their ease of use, effectiveness, respect for the dog, and low potential for unwanted “side effects.”

There are other publications and forums that explain, promote, and discuss other styles of training; there may even be some that publish information about all styles and schools of dog training in a sort of neutral way, with the goal of “letting the readers decide” which type of training they want to pursue or practice. That’s not us, either; we do have a mission, and that’s promoting training that occurs without pain or force.

At the same time, we want WDJ to be a “safe place” for people who train differently. We don’t criticize methods that employ force in these pages, on our website, or on our Facebook page, and we discourage our readers from disparaging them on our pages, too. After all, many people who subscribe to WDJ do so for the articles on health and safety and nutrition; they tolerate the articles that promote training methods they don’t like because they value our food and gear reviews and in-depth articles on effective healthcare solutions. Respect!

In our view, there is no reason to call names or fight; there is no war – and even if there were, who has time to fight? Not us! We’d rather spend that time taking our dogs for a walk, or sharing information with you about how we taught our dogs to be so fun and safe to walk with.

Whole Dog Journal editor Nancy Kerns