Learning by Doing

If you want to chase a Bison – go ahead and try.

I was listening to this audiobook about a man and his dog. It was the man’s first dog and he, unintentionally, let his dog find out for (and train) himself not to chase and bother wild animals. It set a strong contrast between (if I put it in human terms) an over-protective parent and one who lets their kid run barefoot in the dirt and learn from their own mistakes.

In the book, the man’s dog decides he wants to chase a Bison. Now in this case – the man couldn’t call his dog back. That ended up not being much of a problem though, because the dog came running back to him after the Bison tossed him flying through the air… perhaps not an ideal way to train a dog. For the dog it is very effective and, hey, the punishment isn’t coming from you. But then again, I also don’t want a dead dog. Which is why I don’t let my dog run in the street to experience why it’s bad to jump in front of cars.

It’s an idea to toy with: when is it a good opportunity to let a dog, or other animal… or human, learn by making their own mistakes. Then, when is it good to set them up (through training, perhaps) to simply know not to do that? Using the car scenario, I trust my dog to not dash across a highway to chase a bird, cat or dog. Even without a leash. Our bond, communication, and consistent training have got us to that point. (Check out my DVD to learn how… )

We want to be protective of our animals in our human world (protecting them from cars, from other dogs, etc.), but in a natural, non-human environment, it seems that dogs and other animals will allow space for more experimentation. Learning by doing. Learning by making some mistakes – good and bad. Hmm…


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