The origin of the Natural Method
I perfected this gentle method at the end of the 1970s. People often ask me how someone can “invent” a technique of learning which flies in the face of all the traditional methods of negative conditioning which have existed since the 1900s, when dogs started to become an important element in Western society.
The answer is simple. For a long time I observed wolves living in the wild (what I call, whether some like it or not, field ethology). This is a step which is no common practice in the study of canine behaviour, as it is obviously more comfortable to read up in the warm at home what other people have written on the subject.
Starting from the principle of the Watson school, that man is “constructed”, which can equally be applied to dogs I opened my eyes and noticed how training is carried out by individuals among the wolves.
The mother returns from hunting. She gives a signal; the wolf cubs come out of the den and rush towards her. When they reach their mother they get the regurgitated food.
For the puppy, this corresponds to the call of the owner, associated with a treat, dinner, or a game. As soon as the puppy comes, he is rewarded.
The wolf cubs turn, beg and lick their mother’s lips. She raises her head. The wolf cubs sit.
The mother goes to lie down; the wolf cubs follow her muzzle as if they were glued to it. They lie down.
The mother wolf prepares to get up. The wolf cub follows the movement and gets to its feet.
For the puppy, sit corresponds to raising the hand holding the titbit.
Nine times out of ten he follows the movement and sits.
The down is achieved by lowering the hand holding the treat.
The stand, by moving the hand forward and immediately blocking.
Walking to heel
If an individual is carrying prey in the mouth, he will be escorted by the others. Those that are nearest in the hierarchy of the young ones that have not yet learned the absolute respect for the dominant wolf may even try to seize it, by pretending to snatch it from the side and pulling carefully.
With the mother the wolf cubs stick close to her side and move forward with her, licking her lips.
To the puppy, this equivalent to the owner moving forward, showing the treat or ball he holds in his hand, but not giving it.