The Evolution of Dog Training

September 6, 2015 by Karin
Filed under: Dog Training 

There is a quiet evolution taking place in methods used by dog trainers today. It is quite different from the rock star image of training done on the television, where a dog is magically transformed from an out-of-control beast to a perfect family member in a single hour. As with magic, this is an illusion created through the liberal use of editing. The myth that a dog owner needs to be the “alpha” has long been exposed by animal researchers worldwide. Simply put, bullying your dog may get him/her to suppress a behavior out of fear. Let’s take a look at a different method of training; one that not only works, but allows the owner and the dog to enjoy the process!

Welcome to the wonderful world of positive reinforcement. In this world the dog is rewarded for behavior you want and unwanted behavior is ignored (for the most part). An example could be that your dog jumps up on you when you come home. It is nice that he/she is happy to see you, but their way of expressing it (jumping up on you) is unacceptable to you. By pushing the dog off, you are actually reinforcing the jumping up behavior in that the animal is being rewarded by your touch. In many cases, the dog will continue to jump up as many times as you choose to push it off. What your dog is likely doing is simply a “check in” to make sure that everything is the same as it was between you when you left your home earlier. There are several behaviors that you may employ to extinguish the unwanted jumping up. Simply entering your home quietly and calmly, not using a high-pitched voice to the dog will help. Try bending down so your dog gets a moment of “face-time” with you. In many cases this is all that is required as the dog senses that all is well between you. By asking the dog to sit right after the face to face contact, you are providing him/her with an opportunity to earn a reward. The reward could be a dog treat or toy or simply a “good dog”. The dog has inadvertently learned that by sitting down after your initial greeting that there is a treat coming. That is a basic form of positive reinforcement.

No one and no dog wants to be “dominated” into learning. Dogs learn faster and more eagerly when the person training them uses positive reinforcement. One of the largest groups of trainers of sight and hearing assist dogs in North America has switched from the old, traditional methods of training to the sole use of positive reinforcement. Two factors created the switch in techniques; they now train dogs in 50% of the time it used to take, and; they now enjoy a 70% success rate as compared to a rate of 50% using the old methods. No responsible dog owner wants to inflict unnecessary abuse on their pet while training it to become a healthy and happy member of the family. Positive reinforcement training works on pups and adults too.

Pets Stay Home Training & Care and Pets Stay Home Training & Behaviour Consulting are owned and operated by Karin and Mick Howland and use positive reinforcement training as the core of their training philosophy. They are both certified dog trainers and graduates of well recognized training institutions. Karin is an Associate Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (IAABC). She has a number of other certifications from ABC and CASI as well as being a Guild Certified Tellington Touch Practitioner 1. Mick is a Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner (KPA CTP). Reach them by phone at 250-586-7387, by email at info@petsstayhome.ca or through their website at www.petsstayhome.ca Contact them to find out more about how you can have them help you and your dog by using these powerful training methods.

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