Positive Reinforcement vs. Correction!

posted in: Training & Behavior | 0

An essential topic in dog training is the comparison of positive reinforcement versus correction-based methods. The approaches in dog training span a wide range, from strictly positive reinforcement to more severe, sometimes even abusive tactics.

For a balanced view, it’s crucial to avoid extreme positions. Neither purely positive nor overly harsh methods consistently yield the best results, as they lack comprehensiveness.

To discover the most effective and natural dog training method, we can learn from the dogs themselves. We should consider how dogs reward and correct each other, maintain harmony within a pack, and perceive leadership and dominance, even when our dogs are not at our home, as for example in a dog home boarding as they need to be trained in these safe places as well.

In nature, dogs routinely correct each other, which is a normal and necessary part of their communication. This establishes boundaries, crucial in any relationship. The notion that all forms of correction are harmful and abusive is an extreme and unrealistic view. Effective leadership often involves setting healthy boundaries, a concept supported in the field of mental health.

Additionally, understanding the role of sleep in dogs’ behavior and training is significant. Adequate sleep is vital for a dog’s health and temperament, influencing their ability to learn and respond to training. It’s crucial to consider a dog’s sleep needs alongside training techniques for a holistic approach to their well-being. You can check these dog beds for sale and start taking your dog’s needs into consideration.

In fact, boundaries are necessary.

Try raising a human child without ever communicating to that child, “don’t do that” or “wrong choice”, or “pay attention”. The result: a child who is out of control, disrespectful, possibly violent, and always upset.

The same is true for dogs.

On the other side of the spectrum; motivating dogs to comply out of fear and blind submission is not desirable, effective, or morally acceptable. A person who is unfairly and excessively harsh is also a poor leader and should not be in a position to teach anything: child, dog, bird, ant, anything.

Someone with a personal need to scare another creature into compliance or submission is also fundamentally insecure and is also not a good leader.

The most effective and ethical way to communicate with a dog is one of balance, and it aligns with how dogs communicate with each other naturally. The easiest language for any animal to understand is their native language. For dogs, that includes appropriate, and timely praise, as well as consistent and fair correction – all occurring with a foundation of leadership, and mutual respect, which is fundamental to this pet information source.

When interviewing a potential trainer for you and your dog, ask them what their philosophy is regarding positive reinforcement and correction. Look for someone who falls somewhere along the middle of spectrum and who you feel comfortable with. Ask for references of past clients who they have worked with on similar issues.

Dogs vary individually, just like people. Every human-dog combination is unique and has different needs and preferences. A good trainer should be able to adjust to the dog, rather than force every dog to fit into one method or style of training.

Listening is the most important part of communication. If someone is unwilling to be flexible, and is attached to, or defensive about, their one style; they cannot possibly be a good listener or secure leader.

A good teacher is a good listener. Working with a dog requires constant self-evaluation. If a dog is not understanding an expectation after several repetitions, a trainer must ask him or herself: “What am I doing that is not working?” or “What is missing from this equation?” An effective trainer will quickly recognize how they need to adjust what they do, for each individual dog-human team to learn with minimal stress and maximum success.

Dogs (and people) need to be clear about what is expected of them and then have their environment respond consistently to the established expectations. There are times when our pets need us to be firm, but never without the presence of love and compassion.

Respect is a two-way street…no exceptions.