Is Positive Training always the right answer to dog training?

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself

Really take time to think about that, isn’t it wonderful, how blessed are we that we get to build a respectful and loyal relationship with such a selfless creature; their ability to love and be loved is so remarkable, do we stop and think about it? I mean really think about it, their love, their abundance of free giving, their unconditional fun and gratitude, how would our life be if we applied some of their ethics and qualities, not so much the sniffing each others' behinds, although…! What we could learn is to try and learn from them, in the sense to understand why they do this, how they go about this ritual between each other, as dogs, it’s information finding, it’s actually a really important part of their interaction, finding out how that dog is feeling at that exact moment before jumping in to a conversation, in the best way that they know how, play and interaction. If we were to take the time to really understand how each other was thinking and feeling before interacting, this could help us as a society I’m sure.

Dogs are very good at finding out how the other dog is feeling. If you've been reading my other posts you too will hopefully be getting a better understanding of how your dog is thinking and feeling. This will enable you to communicate better, so your training becomes more effective.

When training your dogs it’s based on learning theory, as it is with all animals; learning theory is well established in animal behaviour science.

Positive training is a philosophy where dogs and other animals are only taught using humane, force-free techniques that encourage them to learn, problem solve and think. There is no fear, intimidation, bullying or domination as there is in old-school punitive training methods, and as the study proves, positive training is a much more effective methodology that promotes learning and helps 'rehabilitate' dogs with stress, anxieties, fears, aggressive behaviour and phobias. Positive training sets dogs up for success and relies on management strategies as well to promote that success.

Contrary to popular opinion though, positive does not mean permissive. Positive trainers and people who subscribe to the philosophy 'don’t allow dogs to do whatever they like' and who believe in giving them boundaries and telling them 'no' when they need to, exactly like children! They use rewards in the form of food, praise, play, toys, and so on, to encourage and mark good behaviour as well as humane techniques to discourage negative behaviour. The kind of techniques I use to create boundaries are vocal cues to interrupt and redirect negative behaviour to positive behaviour, time-outs or removal of the dog, withholding a reward or simply ignoring behaviour. These techniques work on all dogs from Pomeranians to Pit Bulls and with dogs that have all kinds of behavioural issues, from chasing to aggression.

Positive training puts the emphasis on teaching dogs what to do rather than continually punishing them for not doing what we want. What sets apart a really good positive trainer from those who might use reward-based training to teach dogs to do things, but then employ hard methods of punishment to stop bad behaviour, is not just their ability to teach a dog to do things using reward-based teaching, but to also use humane techniques to curb and prevent negative behaviour. Positive training makes dogs more confident and builds a strong bond between dog and person. It encourages the dog to listen and respond when asked to do something, and works well on all kinds of dogs including those 'working' dogs with high drive.

Charlotte Steele

There are many reasons to use positive training, not just because it’s kinder, more natural or just being nice. It’s also shown to be more effective, with quicker, longer lasting results.

So here’s to many ‘My Happy Dog’ forward thinking puppy parents, you can start as soon as Puppy arrives, nurturing, guiding and supporting your puppy through those key development stages.

My answer to this blog post, is a big positive YES, positive training is the answer to dog training.

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