I've been thinking lately about the word "command". This is a term that is used across the dog training world to tell your dog what to do. It most of our training methods we don't use commands as we teach the owners how to communicate with their dog using a leash and body language for 30 days after training to help build a foundation for years to come. After the 30 days, the owners can use commands on top of what we have already taught them. I don't look at giving commands as a bad thing to do, I just feel that we have humanized our dogs so much that I hear owners have running conversations with their dogs like they are kids.
Now let's look at the word "command" and what it means. Dictionary.com defines it as:
1. to direct with specific authority or prerogative; order: The captain commanded his men to attack.
2. to require authoritatively; demand:
3. to have or exercise authority or control over; be master of; have at one's bidding or disposal:
These are pretty strong words if you relate them to the dog world. I don't like the idea of the slave/master relationship, we have "Educator" on the back of our shirts, to me a teacher-student relationship is a better way to go. Teachers don't command their students when teaching math they "instruct" and maybe that's the word we as dog trainers need to utilize. There has been on-going research to debunk the idea that dogs have a dominant-submissive type social structure yet we use "commands" to get our dogs to do what we want. As research continues "commands" will continue as a way to communicate with our dogs and that term is directly related to an authority-inferior type relationship. We can't have it both ways, so where do we go from here?