COLUMN: Is there a miracle training technique for your dog?

• Nadine Whittal, dog trainer writes:

There are a number of different training techniques and often dog trainers will claim that they have discovered the miracle technique that will work for your dog. Whether this is true or not, most training techniques fall under one of two types – positive reinforcement or correction-based training. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Correction-based training is one of the earlier methods of training dogs, or any animal really. Often seen as quite harsh, the dog is asked to do something and then forced into place by use of a lead, prong collar, e-collar or even a check chain, the idea being to correct the dogs’ incorrect behaviour and physically show them the correct behaviour.

While this does aid in training obedience and generally yields quick results, there are a few issues with this kind of training.

The use of correction is really using punishment or force to train the dog. This can create dogs doing as they are told out of fear. On the other hand, some dogs may manifest aggression as a result of this training technique.

When observing dogs trained in this manner when they are competing, they tend to be less excited or happy to do the work. Their movements are lethargic, and they do not seem to be building much of a relationship with their handler.

Positive-reinforcement training is the use of reward to get results. Dogs are lured into position using the reward, either treat or toy, and often verbally praised for the correct behaviour. The incorrect behaviour results in no reward being presented.

Dogs are lured into position using the reward, either treat or toy, and often verbally praised for the correct behaviour. Photo: Destiny Wiens on Unsplash.

This kind of training rarely yields dogs who have developed fear, lethargy or aggression as a result of training, but can take a bit longer. More often, these dogs are eager to please and work hard for the next reward.

Further, when the dogs do have to be corrected, for example, when they chase cars or attack other animals, the correction has a far greater impact than it would, should the correction be a regularly experienced occurrence.

So, when deciding what dog school to attend, look at the training techniques they use and do some of your own research. Make an informed decision on what training techniques you do or don’t agree with, and then find a school or a trainer that has the same ideals.

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