While many dog training methods exist, they all center around a few basic concepts. You can use positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, or a combination of the two. But which training method is best? Nearly all trainers will use some sort of combination of the two. The difference between various dog trainers is how much of each method they use and to what degree. Here's a rundown on how positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, and some of the more popular training methods work.
When using positive reinforcement training methods, the trainer (that's you!) will reward a dog for performing desired behaviors. While it has always been used in some respect, only recently has it become such a large factor for so many trainers. Many of them make it the focal point of their entire obedience training class. I find that using one method or another exclusively doesn't usually yield very good results. Every dog needs a balance between the two. That balance will depend on each individual dog and each individual trainer. It's important that your dog sees training as a fun and positive experience, though. This guide will help show you how positive reinforcement training should be used.
This clicker training guide will explain how clicker training works and how to get started. Clicker training uses a device which creates a sound (a click, as you might imagine) to communicate to your dog that he or she performed a desired behavior. The dog will begin to associate the sound of the click with a treat or reward. Once the dog learns which behavior creates the click, they want to do it over and over again! For example, when teaching your dog to "sit" you would click as soon as your dogs butt touches the floor, followed by a treat. When the dog hears the click, the dog begins to associate "sit" with a "click" which equals treat! While clicker training is nothing new, it has absolutely sky rocketed in popularity over the past several years and with good reason. Clicker training is humane, fun, and very highly effective. If you aren't already familiar with clicker training, you're missing out on a wonderful training technique.
Negative reinforcement dog training has been given a bad name over the years, but in reality, nearly all trainers use negative reinforcement to some degree. It's an important and necessary part of successfully training your dog. Negative reinforcement doesn't have to be (and shouldn't be) abusive or cause harm to your dog. This may seem obvious, but many people use negative reinforcement in a very inhumane way and others are under the impression that negative reinforcement needs to be painful. Negative reinforcement could be as simple as turning your back and ignoring your dog during unwanted behaviors. While physical corrections can also be used, there are ways to use them without inflicting fear and pain. Unfortunately, there are still quite a few dog trainers that use "old school" punishment methods and include painful physical corrections as a part of their training classes. Using choke chains, prong collars, shock collars, or pinch collars can be used in a safe, humane, and non-painful way. These devices are only abusive if you make them that way. When used correctly, they can be a very effective communication tool to use with your dog. When you're able to properly communicate with your dog, your dog can better understand what is expected of him or her. When your dog has a clear understanding of what's expected, everyone wins (especially your dog).
Prong collar training is one of the most widely used training methods in the world. Also known as training collars, they are extremely popular to teach basic obedience training as well as leash manners. When used properly, this is one of the most effective and humane forms of communication. Unfortunately, these collars are often abused, even by professional trainers. Prong collars can and should be used in a way that does not inflict pain to your dog. In fact, prong collars are specifically designed to reduce the chance of physical harm or injury. You should never use a prong collar without the assistance of a professional trainer, especially when first introducing the collar to a dog. This guide will help give you a better understanding of how a prong collar can be used safely and humanely and also why it's one of the most used dog training methods today. That will allow you to make an educated decision about which trainer you decide to go with.
No matter what type of training method you decide to use, you absolutely must become a pack leader to your dog. This isn't optional, it's a mandatory rule set by mother nature. Dogs are pack animals and will always seek out a leader. The leaders job is to handle all the decision making and run the show. A dog pack is not a democracy, it's a dictatorship. While this may not work well in the human world, it's how dogs naturally survive in the wild. A pack with a firm, yet fair leader is happy and healthy. If a pack doesn't have a clearly defined pack leader, things go haywire. The same will happen in your home. If your dog doesn't see you as a pack leader, your dog will attempt to assume that role, which will come out in the form of unwanted and sometimes even aggressive or destructive behaviors. Are you sure your dog sees you as a pack leader?
Potty training a puppy may seem a bit overwhelming, but actually, it isn't that hard. The hardest part of house training a puppy is having the patience to show your puppy the same thing over and over again for perhaps weeks on end. Here, we'll explain some of the things you should and shouldn't do to make poppy training your puppy a breeze. We can't guarantee an accident free puppy, but with these tips and a little patience, you can put potty training to rest and quickly move on to more fun types of training!