Effective dog training takes root in clear communication and a strong human-animal bond, not pain or intimidation in the name of leadership or control. Dogs want to do what we ask. And they deserve better than to live in fear if they don’t.
I use only humane methods based on the latest science in animal learning, not outdated ideas about dominance and punishment from decades ago that have been abandoned and discredited by so many in the Dog Training and veterinary professions .
How Positive Dog Training and works
Positive dog training uses two forms of “conditioning” to help animals learn. In some cases, we use classical conditioning to change how a dog feels and responds when faced with exciting or scary things. In other cases, we use operant conditioning to shape the behaviors we seek in our canine friends.
Clicker training which is a subset of operant conditioning, uses the sharp, distinct, and immediate click sound to “mark” behaviors (or pieces of more complex behaviors) we want to teach. This lets dogs know quickly which behaviors we like.
Typically, we reward dogs with a click then lots of treats -- what trainers call a “jackpot” -- when dogs first learn a behavior. Then, as dogs perform the behavior with more confidence and consistency, we can decrease the amount of food rewarded and the frequency of the reward.
Critics say that positive dog training “bribes” dogs into behaving or that we”re too permissive or wishy-washy with our dogs. That isn’t the case. People who use reward-based dog training set all kinds of rules for dogs to follow. Just a few examples:
The difference between positive reinforcement training and old-school, punishment-based training lies in our method and motivation. When dogs get it “wrong,” we don’t punish them. We simply don’t reward them. And, if it’s a really annoying thing, like attention-seeking behaviors (pawing at us, trying to crawl in our laps), we get up and leave the room or give a dog version of “time out.”
You see, when dogs learn that good behavior earns our attention, then withdrawing that attention in a non-confrontational, non-emotional way is a very powerful learning tool.
In some cases, however, dogs need a bit more help to succeed. So rather than force dogs into situations where they cannot behave (a method called “flooding”), we adjust the environment and our expectations until they can. Then, we reward them for their effort.