It’s interesting to read the reviews and comments on Neil’s DVD as well as the assortment of critiques offered on the web in regards to how other thinkers on dogs perceive Natural Dog Training. It strikes me that our respective arguments aren’t intersecting, that we’re not actually making intellectual contact. Some seem to be saying that since their way of training dogs has produced adequate if not amazing results, why is there any need to reinvent the wheel? Others say that since every dog is different, any systemic approach is misguided and we’re better off picking from this tool or that tool from those being offered and that it’s through learning what tools work with the various personality types of dogs that we advance our understanding. Some say that NDT is merely a rehashing of old ideas candied up with some new terminology that makes things unnecessarily complex. So I’m searching for the definitive question which would eliminate those questions that aren’t actually germane to the discussion, such as who-is-better-than-who at dog training. If our varied ways of looking at dogs and behavior can actually find an interface, a point of friction, then the argument can gain traction and be advanced.
To me, it seems the defining question is whether or not dogs have a nature, in other words, an irreducible makeup encapsulating the essence of the canine being. To put words in the mouth of a dominance proponent, I suppose they would say something to the effect that yes dogs do have a nature and it is a pack instinct so as to find a way to contribute to the pack as a means of fitting in. I believe an R+ trainer would have to say that there is no nature; sociability and complex expressions of behavior are a function of learning. I feel this question might prove a good platform on which various schools of thought could engage. What do you think is the nature of a dog?