Let’s take a look at three of the most common dog training methods to help you decide which one is best for you. You see, training your dog is one of the most important things you can do to make sure that you and your pet have the best relationship possible. However, you may wonder which method is best?
The Traditional Approach
One of the early dog training methods, now considered the ‘Traditional Approach’, was developed to train dogs during the first World War. It was later adopted by civilian trainers.
The main components of this training are negative reinforcement and punishment.
Negative reinforcement strengthens a desired behavior because a negative is avoided because of that behavior. For example, you may push down on your dogs rear-end, which is unpleasant. When the dog sits, the pressure is stopped. In this way you are teaching him to sit via negative reinforcement. When the dog performs as commanded, the negative experience goes away.
Punishment is then an unpleasant result for an undesired behavior. Hitting or yelling at your dog for stealing food or climbing on furniture would be a form of punishment. While it will discourage the behavior, the training may weaken when you are not present as the animal only fears consequences in your presence.
Positive Dog Training
The positive training technique is based on B.F. Skinner’s theory of operant conditioning. While not one of the newer dog training methods, it became very popular in the late 1990’s.
Positive dog training involves the use of positive reinforcement instead of negative reinforcement. It’s very important to understand that positive reinforcement isn’t the same as reward. This is where many people misunderstand this training philosophy.
As stated before, positive reinforcement is the polar opposite of negative reinforcement. Through this process, a behavior is strengthened because a pleasant experience occurs due to that action. If you give your dog a treat every time he lays down, he will have a tendency to lie down to receive more of the treat. This is a way to teach your dog to lie down through positive reinforcement.
This is considered a great technique for teaching dogs new behaviors. It also builds up a good relationship between the owner and his or her dog. This also tends to be one of the easiest methods of training for new owners.
Mixed Training Techniques
Mixed training uses a combination of negative and positive reinforcement. These dog training methods are kinder to the dog than traditional training, but they will also create a good foundation for the use of reinforcement.
This method is most popular for use in sports, attack/protection training, and for police K9 training. In fact, variations of this method are found in most dog training classes these days. One of the main reasons for using mixed training techniques is that certain behaviors, such as sleeve attack bites are almost impossible to train properly without negative reinforcement.
The mixed training method avoids using treats as a reward. Instead, games and praise are the reward. This reinforces the desired behaviors without being depending on a treat.
No matter which method you decide on, it’s important to be consistent. The key to the best techniques is consistency.