There are many different training methods such as Correction Based Training, Positive Motivational Training
and Clicker Training that dog trainers use.
Here at Leighthouse Kennels we prefer to train our dogs through positive motivation.
We reward our dogs for doing something right rather than punish them for doing something wrong.
We do not bribe our dogs- we reward them for a correct response!
What is the best method for you?
This question is best answered by asking a few simple questions about the person that will be training the dog, and more importantly, questions about the dog. There is no correct "one size fits all" approach to dog training. Each breed is different and each dog within that breed can be different. Dog trainers also differ widely in their approaches. If you have 2 obedience trainers in a room the only thing they may agree on is what the third dog trainer is doing wrong! Here at Leighthouse we like to offer the owner a "mental toolbox" of different methods/solutions they can use to apply to problems they may be having in training their dog. Each owner's "toolbox" will differ and what works for one owner may not work for another. We will help you find the best solutions to achieving the correct response from your dog and encouraging owners to be calm and consistent in their approach., taking on the leadership position.
Here is the official position statement of the Board of Directors of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers in regards to training methods:
"It is the belief of the Board that the dominance training concept is based on incorrect theories and has the capability of doing long term harm to a dog and its relationship with its owners. The APDT feels it is important for the Association to take positions on any matter that has scientific data supporting the fact that it is harmful to dogs and/or the dog human relationship."
Here is noted trainer Victoria Stilwell's position on positive reinforcement:
"I want to dispel a few myths about positive reinforcement training methods. There seems to be a great deal of confusion as to what positive reinforcement really is and about which dogs and behaviors it is useful for. For example, I have heard people say that positive reinforcement trainers only deal with obedience training, but when it comes to severe behavioral issues such as aggression, dominance training methods are the only ones that really work because they are more in tune with a dogs basic psychology. Nothing could be further from the truth so I thought it was time to lay out the facts about positive training and explain why dominance theorists and practitioners have it so wrong.
Myth: Positive reinforcement trainers only use food as rewards, which is a form of bribery. A dog should never be bribed into doing something for food but should obey their owners because they want to make their owners happy.
Fact: This is something that I hear often but comes from those who do not understand how powerful positive training is. Food is used as a reward especially for a dog that is food motivated, but rewards such as toys, praise and play can be just as powerful if a dog happens to be motivated by them. The bottom line here is that a reward that motivates a dog to learn is a great training tool because learning not only makes a dog more confident and able to live successfully in a domestic environment, it also encourages mutual understanding that increases the human/animal bond. That is not bribery. If a dog sees that there are pleasurable consequences for a behavior then he is more likely to repeat the behavior because doing so makes him feel good. When a person is attached to that good feeling there is more likelihood of the dog listening and responding to whatever that person asks of him. That is why I have never understood why people choose to train their dogs using force and punishment. The dog might behave and do what the human asks but only because he has learned that not behaving will cause a negative reaction in his human and that needs to be avoided at all costs. Not a good place to be!
Food also has the power to help a fearful or anxious dog overcome his fears. When food is presented to a fearful dog in the presence of a stimulus that causes that fear or anxiety, the smell and taste of the food bypasses all other parts of the brain and goes straight to the brains emotional center, the amygdala. Instead of feeling fear, the brain begins to be overcome with not just the pleasurable feelings that food gives but also allows the dog to focus more on the good sensation and less on the negative emotion. Food is incompatible with fear and is therefore a valuable tool in modifying a dogs fear, anxiety and stress. "
Questions for the owner: What philosophy do you hold for training your dog? Are you comfortable using corrections? Is everyone in the household capable of physically correcting the dog if you use correction based training methods? Are the family dynamics such that you are all ready to work as a team to train the dog? Do you mind using Motivators (food or toy) to get your dog to take the next step? Are you willing to change unsuccessful methods you have been using up until now?
Questions for the dog: Is the dog a puppy or older dog with some training already? What breed is the dog? What is the dog's personality ( submissive or dominant)? If an older dog: Has the dog had any bad experiences with training? Is the dog dog aggressive? Is the dog aggressive towards people? Do you know the dog's history ( is the dog a rescue)? Is the dog hand shy? Does the dog have any behavior problems? We ask these questions because several factors affect your dog's behavior, two of the main ones being genetics and environment.
What is positive motivation?
Many students find success by using food as a motivator, but it can be anything thats positive that will get your dog excited to take that extra step! i.e. Toys, Attention, Petting, Playing.
Positive Motivational Training follows the simple principle of rewarding the dog for doing the right thing whether it be a "Sit", " Stay "or "No Bark".
The whole key to training a dog motivationally is to reward the dog for a wanted behavior. We also focus on the owner and helping them to obtain a leadership role thru calm, determined consistent commands.
Equipment needed: 6-foot leash, Buckle collar, Motivator (food, clicker, toy, etc), and a DOG!
Pros and Cons of Positive Motivational Training
1. No expensive equipment to buy unless trainer recommends a Gentle Leader/Halti type collar.
2. All you put on your dog is a flat buckle collar and a leash.
3. You can use this training method for behavior modifications.
4. A great method to teach the initial command (sit, down, stay).
5. You do not have to be physically strong to train your dog.
6. Dogs typically love Positive Motivational Training.
7. People typically love Positive Motivational Training.
8. Motivational training is fun for Dogs and Humans.
9. Dog does not have to be rewarded ever time they perform.
10. Strengthens your relationship with your dog and they obey out of love, not fear.
1. Dogs MUST be weaned off of food if this is being used as the motivator and an increased response to praise alone must be introduced.
2. Dog's food must be adjusted for the extra calories(if using food motivator).
3. Motivators must only be used during training times.
If you see a Puppy Kindergarten class and the instructor is using pinch collars, run, don't walk, away!!
What is correction based training?
Simply put the Correction Training works under the principle of when the dog does something wrong (ex : does not sit when told to) he/she gets corrected. Thus making the dog do what's asked for fear of being corrected.
Equipment needed: 6-foot leash and a correction collar. Though there are many different type of correction collars,such as shock, prong, citronella and beepers, the most common is a slip collar as pictured above. The slip collar is also known as a correction collar and/or choke chain (my least favorite name). It comes in a variety of mediums, such as chain or nylon. Each type of collar has its own way of correcting the dog for a specific purpose for training certain behaviors. I must also add that there are still some trainers that use more than collar corrections on dogs, such as physically hitting dogs and cuffing dogs(hitting them under the chin with the mouth open). Though the trainers that practice this type of correction training are few and far between there are still a few of them out there.
Pros and Cons of Correction Based Training (based on writings of proponents of this method)
1. A very good method to control a dog off leash i.e thru a shock collar.
2. Commands can sometimes be learned more quickly thru the use of the correction collar, if well timed.
1. The dog usually will obey you at their best only when the correction can be given. i.e. when the collar is on the dog.
2. You must be able to physically correct the dog. i.e. push the bottom or pull the leash to correct the dog.
3. You have to purchase the equipment.
4. You have to put the equipment on the dog.
5. You can not use this method for behavior modification
6. Dogs typically do not like correction based training.
7. Correction based training can be hard work.
8. A correction must be given every time the dog does not perform when asked.
9.Not a good way to teach the initial command (sit, down , stay).
10. Use of well timed praise is an absolute necessity so the focus is not on the correction but on the successful completion of the command given.
When do I start training?As soon as you bring them home! Right now your dog's mind is pretty much empty, or we will use the term "Tabula rasa" meaning "a blank slate". You need to fill it with the correct commands and behaviors before he learns and adopts incorrect behaviors!! The simple act of teaching your dog anything makes his brain stronger and faster, which in turn makes him more successful learning OTHER things. In other words, his intelligence and learning skills start to "snowball" with the very first thing you teach -- and keep right on snowballing with every new word. Do not wait to train until they are six months of age. By then certain behaviors have become ingrained!