Using "Pain" for Training Dogs Not To Bite
One of my favorite techniques for training dogs not to bite is based on what I call the Pursuit of Pain Principle.
The Pursuit of Pain principle states that under certain conditions you can actually condition any living, breathing creature to actually feel the desire to Pursue pain.
You’ve seen this principle at work lots of different times, but were probably never aware of it.
One of the most common examples of this principle is in football.
The next time you watch a good football game, pay attention to what the announcers say.
They’ll often use words like, “This guy just LOVES to hit people”… or “he loves to lower the boom on linebackers”.
Now I don’t know if you’ve ever strapped on a pair of football pads and played the game at a competitive level or not, but I can assure you that when two football players colide it is a painful experience.
It does not “physically” feel good to ram your body full speed into another human being.
So why do you hear announcers say that some football players LOVE to hit people?
Because it even though it doesn’t feel good physically, it DOES feel good EMOTIONALLY!
The emotional satisfaction of physically manhandling their opponent is a higher emotional reward, then the physical pain they have to endure to achieve that result.
In a way, football players have been trained to LOVE pain.
They’ve been conditioned to love it starting at a young age. When young people start out playing football the pain isn’t very intense, because the other players are not as strong as adults. But with every passing year players get bigger and stronger, and the amount of pain tolerance it takes to play the game increases….
Yet the players don’t seem to be bothered by that…. hmmmmm?
The Pursuit Of Pain Principle
Is All Around Us
Think about how certain women will continually go back to a man that beats her. Even though the physical pain of being beaten by her spouse or boyfriend is painful, the EMOTIONAL pain of being alone is for many, worse.
The fact is we all know people who continually ask for and even pursue physical pain, because it brings MUCH more EMOTIONAL relief or EMOTIONAL pleasure.
And surprise, surprise, this is true with animals as well 😉
Animals Can be Trained To Pursue Pain Too
In some very interesting studies, scientists have discovered that they could train rats to Pursue the Pain of electric shock.
To do this the scientists had to take an Emotionally valuable item, typically food, and first train the rat to pull a chain to receive the food.
Once this behavior had been trained, they then ran a small electrical current through the chain that would mildly shock the rat as he pulled it. The shock was initially not painful enough to warrant going without food.
But the scientists discovered that if they increased the level of shock the rat received slowly enough… over time they could condition rats to go back and pull the chain to get food while putting up with extreme levels of shock that would knock them backwards.
Just like the young football player who has been conditioned his whole life to willingly tolerate more and more pain to receive an emotional reward, rats can be trained the same way.
Why You Should Inflict Pain On Your Dog!
The reason I’m bringing all of this up, is because the infliction of pain is one of the two largest contributers to dog bite attacks in the world; the other is fear.
Typically the pain I’m talking about is caused accidentally, like when a toddler jumps off a couch and lands on your dog; or bites his tail, or accidently falls off his bike and runs into your dog.
In these instances, your dog can be suddenly put into a lot of pain, and out of instinct, bite to protect itself.
This is why I believe that you have a moral obligation to use the Pursuit Of Pain principle on your dog to increase his pain tolerance to the point where he can simply shrug off hi levels of pain.
In order to help prevent dog aggression towards children, I teach a concept called Toddler Proofing.
Toddler proofing is a training process that gradually sets up situations where your dog is exposed to very low levels of pain, like a slight tail tug, while receive VERY hi value treats at the same time.
Most of our clients find that with practice, they can get their dogs to actually become excited about receiving low levels of pain.
This is obviously a topic that requires a LOT of precision and must be understood fully before implementing, so I’m not going to cover it in complete detail in this blog post.
But if you’re intersted in learning how you can use Toddler Proofing to increase your dog’s pain tolerance threshold to reduce the risk of accidental dog bites, then you should invest in my Hands Off Dog Training course.