Consider using dog training methods your dog wants you to use!
Using Scare Tactics
Is the use of scare tactics, harsh tone of voice, punishments or corrections to train your dog ever appropriate?
Confused about contradictory training methods you read about, your friends tell you, or a dog trainer wants you to use?
Read on… let’s talk about that!
Dogs, humans and all animals are sentient beings. Meaning there are some emotions that we all share and feel. Whether we are a human, dog, cat, rabbit, mouse, chicken, sheep, cow or horse; we all feel fear, sadness, grief, depression, happiness, sense of freedom, love of our family and friends and physical, mental and emotional pain.
Why do I mention this? Because when it comes to training humans or animals, we now know using psychology, kindness and motivation is the best possible method. However, some books and trainers are still using outdated, counterproductive, forceful and unethical methods.
Should you use negative or positive reinforcement to train your dog?
What is that? Simply explained…
Negative reinforcement = if the dog does not do what’s being taught, asked to do, or expected, they get some form of verbal, mental or physical pain and / or punishment.
Positive reinforcement = finding out what motivates the dog most and using rewards to reinforce wanted behaviour; ignoring unwanted behaviour and distracting them into wanted behaviour.
When it comes to dog training everyone seems to have their own method and wants you to believe they are an “expert”. Even professional dog trainers can use totally opposing methods. It can all be so confusing and contradictory.
During the First World War, dogs were used in various ways from being pack animals to sniffer, security and communication carrying dogs. Back then they had little to no knowledge of dog psychology. They used “force” and “punishment” to train.
Some dog owners, books, dog training clubs and even professional dog trainers are still using such barbaric, out dated, inhumane, unethical and counter productive training methods. Why? Because they can achieve some results but at the cost of the dignity, confidence, mental and physical, wellbeing and integrity of the dog.
What effect does forceful training have on a puppy or adult dog?
Forceful, harsh and negative reinforcement teaches a dog that you are confusing, unsafe, threatening, fearful and a poor leader. They are likely to lose trust and rapport with you. They will be prone not to listen to you, instead make their own decisions because they consider you unfair and not worthy to follow. These harsh methods teach a dog not to trust people. They can become fearful, shy and timid. Puppies and adult dogs expected to go on to be pets as therapy dogs, can only be trained using reward-based methods because of this.
These harsh methods teach a dog not only to be fearful of you and learning new things, but the harsher the method, can cause a dog to “close down” and “freeze”. This is a physiological fearful response in a lot of species including humans and common in dogs. I’ve seen this often when an owner or professional trainer is shouting at a dog, or yanking harshly on their lead.
Depending on the dog’s DNA, personality and experiences, the fear can cause the dog to either lash out with a nip, snarl or even bite; or can cause them to close down and freeze with fear.
When they close down or freeze the owner / trainer tends to get more frustrated, shout louder, punish more and call the dog stubborn, stupid, have selective hearing, or think they are deliberately trying to be difficult. I’ve even heard some people call the dog vengeful and deliberately being difficult to annoy the person. All of which is total nonsense and entirely untrue. Dogs don’t possess the emotion of vengefulness.
Now you can understand why negative reinforcement and forceful methods, are not only completely counter productive but also unethical, inhumane and affects the mental, emotional and physical well being of the dog.
Are you using “forceful” methods deliberately or unknowingly?
Are you using words like “no”, raising your voice, using any force at all including pulling, pushing, slapping, hitting, scaring or punishing? These are considered forceful or negative reinforcement.
Remember school or the last time you felt vulnerable because someone was teaching you something important? What method did they use and how did you feel? Were they fun, calm, cheerful and motivating? Or were they grumpy, frustrated and made you feel confused and embarrassed? Did they make you feel comfortable to make mistakes or bad if you got it wrong?
Close your eyes just for a few seconds and remember how that felt.
What methods do you wish they would have used to make you feel comfortable and motivated to keep learning more? Well, your dog wants that too!
That sounds familiar? It’s OK! Don’t feel bad!
This is not your fault! Someone taught you to do this either recently, maybe a book you read, or even when you were a child. You will have seen others using these methods on dogs and assumed, this was the correct way to go.
This is all new. How do you know with certainty who to listen to or what to believe?
It’s easier than you think.
Put yourself in your dog’s paws!
Never treat your dog, or allow others to treat your dog, in any way that you wouldn’t want to be treated yourself.
It really is that simple.
1. Would my dog be happy, motivated and excited if I use that training method?
2. If I were a dog, would I enjoy and be happy with a human using that method on me?
Here’s the fantastic news!
The fantastic news for you and your dog is now you know those methods are entirely obsolete and counter productive.
We now know a good deal about dog psychology and the easiest, quickest and best ways to train animals using fun, happy, motivational and reward based methods.
Seek out books or trainers that use the “no force”, “positive reinforcement” or “reward based” methods. Share this information with your friends.
What are the main methods included in positive reinforcement / reward based training?
- It’s based on the premise that rewarded behaviour is repeated and unrewarded behaviour self extinguishes.
- If you were learning something you’d feel happy and motivated with someone using that method on you.
- The use of kindness, gentleness, calmness, love, patience and dog psychology.
- Establishing what motivates that individual dog. This could include food, verbal praise or play and then rewarding wanted behaviour.
- Unwanted behaviour is never punished.
- The dog is distracted from unwanted behaviour then encouraged into wanted behaviour and rewarded, immediately they start the wanted behaviour.
Examples of 3 common training issues, using dog psychology, and methods your dog wants you to use; that will keep them motivated, and considering you a fair, kind, strong and worthy leader:
- The dog is barking in the garden. Call the dog to you. Ask them to sit. You now have 2 wanted behaviours. They came when called and sat on command. Reward the dog with verbal praise, a food treat, a short play game, or all of these. This teaches a dog to come when called with consistency.
- The dog jumps up on you. Say nothing. Take one step towards them carefully and gently moving them backwards. For balance they will require all 4 paws on the ground and remove their paws from you. Soon as all 4 paws are on the ground give the sit command. Soon as they sit, reward the dog with verbal praise, a food treat, a short play game, or all of these. This teaches a dog not to jump up on you, instead to approach you calmly and sit next to you for attention.
- The dog is pulling on the leash on their walk. Say nothing. Don’t pull the leash. Stand still. Don’t look at the dog. Remain still and quiet. Wait for the dog to move either deliberately or unintentionally, in such a way as to cause the leash to slacken even a little, then say nothing and immediately walk on. The reward for the dog is being able to continue on their fun walk rather than boringly staying in one place. This teaches the dog that by keeping the leash slack, they move forward on the walk, teaching walking calmly on a leash without pulling.
I believe that training a dog is an honour and a privilege. It creates a deep bond and is such a wonderful, amazing, journey and adventure for both.
Dog training is meant to be fun, exciting, invigorating and a learning experience for the dog and the trainer.
Don’t blame the dog… train yourself!
If your believe your dog is stubborn, won’t listen to you, or has “selective hearing”… don’t blame the dog… train yourself!
We can help you with that with our online course and eBooks.
Training is meant to be fun for you and your dog. Let’s do that!