What "method" of Dog Training should I "use"?

Jack trained using positive reinforcement aka "throw the ball throw the ball"!

There are many types and "methods" of Dog Training. The marketing behind dog training is massive. We have whisperers, listeners, lifetime trainers, "grew up with wild wolves", pack leaders, bonding, natural dog training, protection dog training, positive reinforcement, reward based training, motivational training and more. It's quite difficult to decide and the internet can be unhelpful in aiding that decision.

 

 

But there is a common denominator to work from. Yipee I hear you say. Yes it's fairly simple if you can get your head around it. All animal behaviour is shaped using punishers and reinforcers aka consequences. That's life. If we work and get paid a salary we continue to work. If we work and get paid with jelly beans we may not continue to work. The consequence of performing a behaviour determines if it will occur again or not. Punishers are likely to decrease behaviour, reinforcers are likely to increase behaviour. But not all reinforcers are acceptable and some punishers are actually acceptable. What? I hear you say. Punishement is ok? Read on ...

 

 

The sign of a good trainer is one who understands and utilises reinforcers and punishers in an ethical and welfare friendly way. Behaviour cannot be shaped by reinforcement alone there is always an element of punishment. For example using treats to reward behaviours, the action of withholding that treat is actually punishment but that is an acceptable punisher.  Your dog jumps up on your anad you turn your back, that's a punisher but an acceptable one. Your salary is not paid until you have completed your work, ok maybe that's a bit harsh but true and wow how well does that work!

 

 

Examples of acceptable punishers include time outs and ignoring unwanted behaviour.Technically called negative punishers.

Examples of unacceptable punishers include correction, shocking, choking, pinning a dog down, kicking, slapping or anything that hurts or causes fear. Technically called positive punishers.

Examples of acceptable reinforcers include food, toys, environmental (off lead run). Technically called positive reinforcers.

Examples of unacceptable reinforcers include releasing a choke on a chain when the dog complies, stopping a shock current when the dog returns. With these examples the behaviour being reinforced is the one that happens when the dog complies. This is dodgy and uncomfortable territory and one we advise you steer clear of. Technically called negative reinforcers.

 

 

Understand that your choices will influence your relationship and level of trust between you and your dog. Sticking with welfare friendly methods of reinforcement and punishment such as rewards (toys, food and attention) and time outs and ignoring unwanted behaviour is the safest place to stay. It is effective, safe and signals to your dog that you are a safe individual to be around. This lowers anxiety and provides for a productive learning environment. After all this is our goall; to enable our dogs to learn and feel safe with us and the people in their lives.

 

 

Choose well and go with your gut instincts. If you are uncomfortable doing it then don''t do it!