When I first started learning about dog training, I was totally overwhelmed by the vast amount of information available. It was so confusing, even the top dog trainers in the world disagreed with each other on which training method was better.
You’d have Caesar Millan on one hand who advocates the dominance theory, and then you’d also have the exact opposite with Karen Pryor who trains strictly with Positive Reinforcements…
So… Which one is right? And who should I listen to when training my dog?!
To be totally honest with you, I was confused. So I decided to go to my local dog training school and do what they told me. Their training methods were a mixture between the two; they would punish the dog for bad behaviors and reward the dog for good behaviors.
On the surface, this system seemed to work very well – my dogs were obedient. But one day, something strange happened…
I was at a local agility ring, and my dog Onyx (a Siberian Husky) was pulling on the leash very hard, as she wanted to go play with another dog. So I did as I had been told, and I yanked on the leash to correct my dog for the bad behavior. But I could tell that the yanking really hurt my dog, she was moving her tongue as if the yanking on the leash made her bite it.
And to make it worse, other people there were all staring at me like I did something wrong. So I began to question myself… “Did I do the right thing?”
I kept convincing myself that this was the proper response, because that’s what the trainers had told me to do when she pulled on the leash. But was it? Was there an alternative?
My world changed when I asked myself this question: “If I were a dog, how would I like to be trained?”
And my answer was eye-opening! Because I wouldn’t want to be trained with corrections like I was doing.
So I made the decision to learn how the experts in positive reinforcements training were able to train their dogs. And what I discovered was that you really don’t need to correct your dog, you simply need to build the good behaviors strongly enough that it becomes second nature to the dog.
And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since. So it is my hope with this e-mail that you will learn from my mistakes, and also learn a new way of training your dog … because in the end, I think what we really want as dog owners is to have a dog that is happy and behaves nicely. We can have both!
Power Quote: “Positive reinforcement training is in my opinion, the best way to build trust in the relationship with your dog.” – Jean Cote