Under Pressure Pt: 2

If you haven’t read Pt: 1….. Start there!

So, since you’ve read that….. Let’s just get right in to this.

This one’s gonna be the one that bunches panties up.

Like I said in Pt: 1, the 4 basic training pressures are:

1. Physical Pressure

2. Spatial Pressure

3. Social Pressure

4. Resource Pressure

We talked before about how Physical and Spatial tactics are very obviously pressures. And, many people feel inherently “bad” about using all but the most subtle versions of them.

Some trainers nowadays like to go so far as to say they not only don’t use those forms of pressure, but they don’t use ANY pressure. They only use Positive Reinforcement.

When people use Praise, Food and Toys…. They always feel like they are not pressuring. They’re “Motivating”!

Here’s the thing…… Food and praise are also creating and using pressure to “motivate” these dogs.

In the last 8 months the two biggest influences on my train of thought are Chad Mackin, and Suzanne Clothier.

I don’t think either one of them has ever really investigated the others work….. But in the spirit of “Great minds thinking alike”…. They both assert that Food= Pressure! And honestly…. It didn’t really register as “truth”. I mean it’s one of those things that you hear and go “eh” and don’t register it as significant.

Fortunately for me….. I have become friends with Chad (after harassing into mentoring me). And, we have dog training discussions till way too late in the night. This gives me the chance to get directed back to those tidbits I wasn’t smart enough to “get” at first exposure.

And one night…. Chad said the line that shifted my understanding, and let me see the “Matrix”.

I was actually leaning to the side of food being “positive”, and not pressure.

Then, he busted out this gem:

“Wave a french fry under a dieters nose and tell me that’s not pressure.”


Then I saw it. It’s all pressure.

Look, when people use food to train their dog they are betting that their dogs are food motivated. Really…. They mean that their dogs respond to food with craving. The kind of craving that makes them literally jump through hoops to get the tiniest morsels. Hell, that kind of craving is PRESSURE!!!!

Sure, it’s not the “oh shit don’t hit me” pressure everyone like to (wrongfully) associate with physical, and spatial pressures. But craving IS pressure.

Strong pressure.

Shit, it’s probably the only pressure STRONGER than “oh shit” pressure. An animal that is in the throes of craving will take CRAZY risks.

And that brings me to the realization that we subconsciously CREATE the pressure.

Here’s the proof-

When a dog isn’t food “motivated” it means they aren’t craving. They are maybe just a little interested. So…. The “Posi” only (implying no pressure) people will say you need “higher value” food. That means, food they are more willing to work for. That means that’s food they have a stronger craving for. That means MORE PRESSURE.

What if they don’t have motivation for even the “high value” food?

Well, you make sure you don’t feed them before training (increase craving). Or you divvy their food up into portions and only feed during training (increase craving).  Or you make them skip a meal, or a day of food so they are more motivated (increase craving)!

“Wave a fry in front of a dieters nose, and tell me that’s not pressure.”

Come on. You can feel it when you read that sentence. Can’t you?


Looking through that same lens, I instantly see toy rewards the same way. There are entire protocols for “increasing DRIVE” in dogs. They are essentially creating and then directing that pressure. That desire. That craving.

And it’s even easier to see that social praise can essentially be “Peer Pressure”. When you’re recalling the dog, you back away…. Make them want to close the gap. When the dog jumps up, you turn away and remove the relationship as punishment. That’s the definition of peer pressure. Hell, how much dumb shit were you willing to do in school just to not have your “friends” turn away from you? Need to build the relationship craving….. Yep….. Remove and dole it out sparingly. Make them want it. NILIF anyone?

I’m really into simplification.

So, here you go….

All training is intentionally creating a pressure, whose release is dependent upon doing an act you have predetermined.

You create pressure on the leash…. They make it go away by yielding.

You create pressure by stepping into them as they break a stay…. They make it go away by going back to position.

You create pressure by removing attention…… They remove it by getting back to the positions that gain your attention.

You create pressure by offering food…. They relieve the pressure by doing the behaviors that get them fed.

All training is pressure. Period.

Instead of seeing all the quadrants, and minutiae. and how we are all different.

Just see the pressure.

Physical, and Spatial “push”.

Social, And Resource “pull”.

That’s the only difference.

All, can be abusive if used in an asshole manner.

All can be subtly, fairly, and to the benefit of the relationship, if used lovingly, and skillfully.

But. It’s all just the creation and release of pressure….





2 thoughts on “Under Pressure Pt: 2”

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