Here at the Oxford Dog Training Company we pride ourselves on using positive techniques to fix all the problems your canine companion can present – everything from puppy training to serious aggression. But this more than just a fancy claim to make it seem like we use techniques owners are happiest with – there is a lot of very serious and well researched science to back up our reasons for doing so.
When dog training first became mainstream (military training coming out of WW1 and WW2 is the beginnings of this) trainers used harsh techniques to physically dominate a dog, and used physical punishment to try and show a dog that they had done something wrong. Our understanding of dog psychology has come a long way since those dark days. Research and advances in technology has allowed us to understand what type of training methods dogs respond best to – both in terms of enjoyment and getting the results dog owners need. Overwhelmingly, positive training is the answer.
Dogs, often referred to as “man’s best friend,” have an incredible ability to bring joy and companionship into our lives. As responsible dog owners, it’s our duty to provide them with the care, attention, and training they deserve. Among the various training methods available, positive reinforcement training shines as a beacon of effective and humane training, offering a plethora of benefits that go beyond just
Here are just some of the reasons why positive training is the right training:
Fosters a Stronger Bond: Positive reinforcement training lays the foundation for a deep and lasting bond between you and your furry friend. By using rewards like treats, praise, or playtime to reinforce desired behaviours, you create a positive association that makes your dog more eager to engage and interact with you.
Creates a Positive Learning Environment: In this method, the focus is on highlighting what your dog does right rather than punishing what they do wrong. This approach fosters a stress-free and positive learning environment that encourages your dog to explore and learn without fear of reprimand.
Encourages Good Behaviour: When your dog understands that positive behaviours lead to pleasant outcomes, they’re more likely to repeat those behaviours. Whether it’s sitting on command, walking nicely on a leash, or coming when called, positive reinforcement is a powerful tool to instil good manners in your dog.
Boosts Confidence: Just like humans, dogs benefit from a boost in confidence. When they master new commands and tricks through positive reinforcement training, they feel a sense of accomplishment and gain confidence in themselves, making them happier and more well-adjusted companions.
Reduces Undesirable Behaviours: Positive reinforcement training doesn’t only focus on teaching new behaviours; it also helps address and reduce unwanted behaviours. By rewarding alternatives to undesirable actions, you’re redirecting your dog’s attention and guiding them toward more appropriate choices.
Tailored to Individual Dogs: Every dog is unique, with different temperaments, personalities, and learning styles. Positive reinforcement training is highly adaptable, allowing you to customize your approach based on your dog’s specific needs and preferences.
Enhances Mental Stimulation: Dogs are intelligent animals that thrive on mental stimulation. Positive reinforcement training engages their minds, offering a stimulating challenge that prevents boredom and curbs destructive behaviours that might arise from it.
Strengthens Trust and Communication: Through positive reinforcement training, you’re communicating with your dog in a way they understand. This mutual understanding builds trust and opens the channels of effective communication between you and your furry companion.
Lowers Stress and Anxiety: Traditional training methods that involve punishment or dominance can induce stress and anxiety in dogs. Positive reinforcement training prioritises rewards and positive experiences, creating a safe and nurturing atmosphere for learning.
Lasting Results: The lessons learned through positive reinforcement training tend to stick with dogs for the long haul. By focusing on building habits through positive experiences, you’re setting your dog up for a lifetime of good behaviour and a harmonious relationship.
Here are some tips for successful positive reinforcement training:
Be Consistent: Consistency is key in dog training. Use the same cues and rewards for a specific behaviour,and ensure everyone in your household follows the same approach.
Use High-Value Rewards: Find out what treats or toys your dog absolutely loves. High-value rewards can help maintain your dog’s focus during training sessions.
Keep Sessions Short and Fun: Dogs have short attention spans, especially when learning something new. Keep training sessions brief, enjoyable, and end them on a positive note.
Timing is Crucial: Timing is critical in positive reinforcement training. Reward your dog immediately after they display the desired behaviour, so they can associate the action with the reward.
Be Patient: Every dog learns at their own pace. Patience is essential; avoid becoming frustrated or impatient, as negative emotions can hinder the training process.
Punishment-based training methods for dogs are not recommended for several reasons:
Fear and Anxiety: These methods often involve inflicting pain or discomfort on the dog, leading to fear and anxiety. This not only damages the trust and bond between the dog and the owner but can also result in long-lasting psychological trauma.
Aggression and Defensiveness: Dogs subjected to punishment-based training can become aggressive or defensive as a way to protect themselves from perceived threats. This can lead to dangerous situations and make the dog harder to manage.
Ineffective Learning: Punishment doesn’t necessarily teach a dog what they should do; it only tells them what they shouldn’t do. This can result in confusion and difficulty in understanding the desired behaviours.
Suppressed Behaviours: Punishment may temporarily suppress unwanted behaviours, but it doesn’t address the underlying cause. This can lead to those behaviours reemerging later or being replaced by other undesirable behaviours.
Lack of Trust: Dogs subjected to punishment-based training can lose trust in their owners and become hesitant to engage in any training or interaction. This impedes the learning process and can have a negative impact on their overall behaviour.
Ethical Concerns: Many experts and animal welfare organizations view punishment-based training as inhumane and outdated. These methods prioritise the owner’s convenience over the dog’s well-being.
Positive Alternatives: Positive reinforcement methods, which focus on rewarding desired behaviours, have been proven to be more effective, humane, and ethically sound. Dogs learn better and faster when they associate training with positive experiences.
Long-Term Impact: Cruel training methods can have lasting emotional and psychological effects on dogs, leading to chronic stress and behavioural issues.
In the realm of dog training, positive reinforcement stands out as an approach that not only gets results
but also nurtures the unique bond between humans and their canine companions. By using rewards to
inspire and motivate, you’re tapping into your dog’s innate desire to please and learn. So, whether you’re
working with a new puppy or an older dog, consider the magic of positive reinforcement training –
where happiness and tail wags abound.