Don’t tell mesomething is great - I would prefer you show me how it works and let me let me judge for myself.
We could talk all day long about the theory BUT the dog is the one who I will listen to - his performance will tell me all I need to know about your methods and how effective they are(or aren’t).
If you have spent any deal of time around dog owners and dog trainers - you'll already be aware that people have strong opinions on what they believe is "The Way" to train and live with a dog.
There are also the outright liars - one local trainer calls himself “the puppy whisperer” and claims on his website that he only “trains with positive reinforcement and with love” - and then exclusively trains with a choke chain.
While I don’t love choke chains - they are not so horrible - I just dislike lying to dog owners and giving our industry a bad rap. I have to retrain many dogs who se owners did not achieve any real usable results with trainers like the aforementioned and when they first come to me they are distrusting since they have been burned.
More on that in another upcoming blog post - I don’t want to start too far off topic here…
Positive only trainers: These trainers only use reward based training and apply zero force to get a dog to comply. Think clicker training or any type of marker based training.
Force Trainers: These trainers exclusively use force to teach and get dogs to comply with commands.
Don’t tell something is great - show me and let me judge for myself. We could talk all day long but the dog is the only one who I will listen to - his performance will tell me all I need to know. This is exactly why I have all the videos on my site - I want people to see just what can be done when all the ingredients are there.
My results oriented approach and my love for animals has lead me to where I am today and what I like to refer to as a balanced dog trainer. I see value in parts of what both caps do - and I am proud to say I have stolen the best pets of each approach and moulded it all to fit into my recipe for a well trained dog.
I see value in both positive and force based training and do not feel the need to throw away one for the other and prefer a balanced approach to training and living with my dog.
Positive trainers have come a long way and brought a lot of valuable info to the dog training community.
In order to train with operant conditioning - you need to have a good grasp of timing and reinforcement as well well as the science behind the principles of learning and the 4 quadrants.
Where I split off from them is where they feel that any force is abuse and that it should never be applied to a dog in training. Force can be gentle and guiding -helping a dog to make the decision we want and yet still leaving him comfortable and happy - feeling safe in his world with you. Think of guiding a 2 year child away fro the table when he tries to grab a cookie after being told no. You are using force. is it abusive? Depends on the person guiding the child and their intention.
Most normal people would simply walk the child away and explain that it is not time for a cookie right now. It may even take more than once but the message would sink in.
Point is that it did not need be an unpleasant experience and the child is not running away from home because he feels threatened. Take it one step further in terms of keeping balance and we can then engage the child in his or her favorite activity as a follow up reward to forgetting about the cookie on the table.
I personally hate dog and people analogies but in this case in order to represent using force in a gentle but guiding manners - it sits well.
It would surprise positive trainers that we could even combine reward based training and positive reinforcement along with corrections in training - I have done so for decades. Force trainers make the same error in disregarding the positive camp's attributes. One of the great aspects of the top positive trainers is their understanding of the scientific principles of learning. A trainer should never underestimate the value to be gained from having a solid grasp of the concepts and theories involved here. It allows us to be very technical and streamline the learning process.
I used to carry a clicker and a remote in the same hand in training! I am not kidding. These days I use marker words in place of a clicker but the same principal applies and my bulldog "Cow" jumps at the sound of her marker words - God forbid I use them in conversation around the house - she'll jiggle or come running when she hears the words "Good" or "Yes".
Force trainers make the same error in disregarding the positive camp's attributes. One of the great aspects of the top positive trainers is their understanding of the scientific principles of learning. A trainer should never underestimate the value to be gained from having a solid grasp of the concepts and theories involved here. It allows us to be very technical and streamline the learning process.
My clients are intelligent people.
I can be as slick as I want in my explanations of why we do what we do - they not only want an obedient dog place a very high premium on how happy and how comfortable their dogs are & the quality of their dog's life. I can tell you that in over 20 years of working with people and their dogs - I have never had someone say to me" I dont care if he is happy as long as he listens". It does not happen - nor would I want it to.
We do not have to sacrifice obedience for happiness, security or comfort. Next time someone tells you otherwise - send them to this page.
But at least you have had a chance to see for yourself what a balanced approach looks like.