In the past, when ever I've seen "natural dog training" it has seemed anything but natural to me
It’s true that anyone can claim to be natural and in one sense, everyone is being natural because in the final analysis, the dog responds to what the trainer does through a naturally evolved temperament and so it’s always the dog’s nature that’s being affected no matter how arbitrary the training approach. The term natural in NDT however doesn’t mean imitating an alpha wolf or a mother dog, and it challenges the concept that dogs learn naturally through classical and operant conditioning. Rather, in NDT natural means duplicating the self-organizing principle that causes sociability not only in canines, but in the nature of all animals as well. The NDT claim of being natural is supported on every level by a consistent argument that never contradicts itself as it carries through basic physics, evolution, domestication, temperament, emotion, personality, sexuality, aggression, learning and sociability. (I would claim quantum physics as well but I don’t understand it.) No matter how complex any behavior, it is always elaborating on top of a simple platform, emotion as a force of attraction and feelings as an auto-tuning/feedback dynamic that adds “new” energy to the system, all of which is predicated on the laws of nature, the very principles by which the natural environment, to which animals must adapt if they are going to evolve, is likewise organized. I maintain this is the most conservative interpretation of the evidence and requires the least amount of assumptions.
NDT overtly defines the dog’s nature (the drive to be in harmony) whereas other models either do not, or generate a definition that immediately contradicts itself. (Such as dogs have an instinct toward dominance and this must be suppressed in the interest of group cooperation. Or, dogs learn to be social and must be taught to be social because it’s not their nature. Because of these inherent contradictions, I am compelled to challenge mainstream dogma.) NDT is consistent from top to bottom because what is natural about Natural Dog Training is energy, and since energy in unarguably the basis of everything in nature therefore if a model is predicated on energy, it will be consistent and comprehensive. (If someone can show me a natural system that isn’t predicated on the laws of nature, I will close down this web site and study up on Cesar Milan and Behavioral Science.)
Natural Dog Training argues that energy not only animates but informs the dog as well. The dog feels, and then it knows. Therefore if one wants to affect a dog’s behavior we need to change the way the dog feels. So while I do indeed use all sorts of artificial props and contrived situations, I use them in order to impact how the dog’s TEMPERAMENT is processing the energy inherent in the situation. The use of artificial aids in training does not make a method unnatural. The training model makes a method unnatural. For example, a chemist can concoct an artificial compound never to be found occurring in nature, and yet the process of concoction is not arbitrary, the chemist must always work in accord with the principles of nature and therefore even a chemical artifice is composed by natural law. On the other hand if the chemist is appealing to alchemy, then that is an unnatural approach.
The nature of energy is to move and the laws of nature define the stability of natural systems. So if a training model allows the dog’s energy to move, then it is natural. If the model is blocking the free movement and consummation of energy, then it is unnatural. Most training models allow energy to move otherwise they wouldn’t be around in the marketplace, but only up to a point and this is the point to which they are successful. The point at which they stop allowing energy to move, is when they become unnatural and begin to break down. Therefore, even pinch collars and electrical collars if applied correctly can be part of a natural approach by virtue of adding “grounded” energy to the dog’s experience, and conversely praising the dog and giving it attention that ultimately makes it feel incomplete, is unnatural.