Re-Training The Wild Beasts Among Men… Part 1
Many women believe men are dogs… It’s not necessarily an insult- In a lot of ways we are. The problem is some men have become overly aggressive, while others are not assertive enough. This article offers effective methods of aggressive man training derived from the abundance of knowledge on retraining aggressive dogs. Enjoy!
Going for a walk with your aggressive man can be one of your favorite ways to exercise and relax, but your pleasant outing can quickly turn into a stressful one if you happen to encounter another aggressive man running loose. If your man feels threatened, the situation can quickly become dangerous.
Tense encounters between men are not unusual. Centuries of phallocentrism within patriarchal societies have deeply penetrated the psyche of the vast majority of humanity. A major reason for male aggression is that during their childhood, many boys are deprived of adequate socialization with good-natured men. Many grow up with poor social skills, unable to “read” other people and exchange non-verbal communication signals with them.
Regular contact with playmates is necessary to develop social confidence. If boys miss out on these positive socialization experiences, they are more at risk of developing fear-based provocative behaviors. Men with aggressive tendencies tend to be kept more isolated than their socially savvy counterparts, and so it follows, their anti-social behavior often intensifies as they get older. Some Aggressive men are directed towards sports and even the military; the latter option causing even more problems later in life.
Fortunately, there is a way out of this dilemma. If you happen to know a man that doesn’t work and play well with others, new training techniques are being developed that can help them resocialize. There are a wide variety of remedies which can improve your man’s manners so that you can feel comfortable letting him go outside. To give you some ideas, some dog owners take their canine companions to “Growl” classes.
In general, “Growl” classes are designed to teach dogs to associate other dogs with positive things, and to teach dogs that good behavior in the presence of other dogs will be rewarded. The first method commonly used in these classes involves basic classical conditioning. The dogs can be taught that the presence of another dog is not inherently a threat by providing a s a food treat, much as Pavlov’s dogs learned to associate the sound of a bell with dinner coming. This is perhaps why social events with multiple men present are required to have food and/ or alcohol present. (It also helps to either have an equal balance of males and females, or no females present at all).
Operant conditioning is also used to teach the dog that his own actions can earn positive reinforcement in the form of treats, praise, and play. Both types of conditioning attempt to fundamentally change the underlying emotional state of the dog that can lead to aggression, rather than just suppressing the outward symptoms. When it comes to men, aggressive tendencies can lie deep within the psyche- buried, as it were, among either painful memories or even genetic tendencies, and are not readily available to the conscious mind. These tendencies will have an impact on behavior, even if they are not expressed as direct aggression. Depression, anxiety, and passive-aggression, to name a few, but this article is focused on ways to correct aggressive behavior when it is not warranted.
This approach to dog training is a departure from traditional techniques. Not long ago, most trainers recommended correcting lunging and barking with a swift, hard yank of the leash. Although this forceful method could interrupt an aggressive outburst, it fails to produce any lasting results as it does nothing to change the way the dog will “feel” or react the next time he sees another dog. In fact, treatment tends to exacerbate the problem by sending the wrong message to the dog; he learns that proximity to other dogs brings about punishment from the owner!
Punishment also leads to additional, and potentially permanent negative side effects. A dog who has been punished, just like a man who has been physically or verbally rebuked, usually experiences physiological stress reactions that make it harder for him to calm down. Also, when punished for growling or showing signs of unease with other dogs, a dog may simply learn to suppress his growling and visual signals of discomfort; the result can be a dog (or a man) that suddenly strikes out without warning or provocation. As such, many experts now believe that it is absolutely necessary to eliminate all punishment and reprimands from aggression rehabilitation programs.
Effective aggression-retraining programs avoid unpleasant or punishing training methods as much as possible. Trainers control the dog’s behavior by putting the dog on what is known as the “No Free Lunch” regimen. The basic premise is that the dog must respond to an obedience cue in order to earn rights, freedoms, and privileges. These include meals, treats, toys, play, games, walks, and even attention and petting. The goal is to teach the dog to appreciate his owner as the provider of all good things in his life.
These principles are much trickier to apply to aggressive men. Certain rights and freedoms cannot be infringed upon legally except in certain conditions (all is fair in love and war they say). This is why the American prison system has become the cumbersome political talking point that it has. The goal of prison is to rehabilitate, yet some people simply refuse to be ‘rehabilitated.’ Perhaps their place is on the battlefield, but if a solution to this problem is not found- and soon, America itself WILL become a battlefield. Privileges, however, can be and are regularly restricted, yet this principle, for whatever reason, is not universally applied. This disposition underlies virtually every social calamity we are faced with today.
While men are highly resistant to conditioning, aggressive behavior in dogs is modified through a planned program of:
♠ Shaping- reinforcing each small action the dog makes toward the desired goal
♥ Desensitization- presenting other dogs at sufficient distance so that an aggressive reaction is not elicited, then gradually decreasing the distance
♣ Counter-conditioning- pairing the presence of other dogs with pleasant things
♦ Re-training the dog to offer behaviors incompatible with aggression on cue.
Another fascinating technique, originally developed by behavior counselor William Campbell, is commonly known as the “Jolly Routine.” An owner is taught to use her own mood to influence her dog’s mood—when your dog is tense, instead of scolding, laugh and giggle him out of it. With men, try telling jokes to lighten the mood.
This same technique can work on fearful dogs. Make a list of items, words, and expressions that hold happy meanings for your dog and use them to help elicit mood changes. “The best ‘double punch’ is to jolly, and then deliver food treats,” says Donaldson. “The bonus to this technique is that it also stops the owner from delivering that tense, warning tone: ‘Be ni-ice!’ ”
Evidence of such conditioning is readily identifiable in modern society, and is often touted as being ‘unpatriotic’ or otherwise some sort of sinister threat to National Security. This very well may be the case, considering all that is going on in the world these days. Aggression is, in fact, a necessity in some circumstances, but the possession of nuclear weapons dramatically increases the potential for complete annihilation of the human species, as well as the ability for any life to exist on this planet for a very long time. Some would argue that should a ‘world war’ not take place, less nuclear weapons, humanity will manage destroy itself anyway one way or another.
Some food for thought, as we cook up part 2…
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