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  • Ahlaysia Benders

Most Common dog training techniques

Updated: Mar 4

Traditional, Balanced and Positive reinforcement, are three of the main strategies used for dog training.

Dogs getting trained by Trainer

Traditional Training

Traditional training is an umbrella term for the first wave of mainstream dog training advice and rhetoric. The use of punishments, aversives, intimidation, and physically coercing dogs into desired behaviors are hallmarks of this training method.

Traditional training includes ideas such as wolf pack and dominance theory. The theory around traditional training efforts is that dogs are creatures who care about dominance rank, and therefore misbehave because they do not view their handler as a leader, and feel that they do not have to follow their lead. Due to this outlook, the goal of traditional training is for the owner to assert themselves into a position of power in the eyes of the dog and prove that they are the dominant 'alpha' of the pack. While traditional training has remained popular in certain circles of the dog training community ( such as Cesar Millan), it has been proven scientifically inaccurate, by modern behavioral scientists. Reputable trainers no longer use traditional training as their choice of training technique.

Balanced Training

Balanced training uses both positive reinforcement and aversive punishment when training. The idea is that a combination of reward-based techniques and aversive consequences when needed will motivate the dog to do well in training while also teaching them that there are consequences to them not performing. Balanced trainers most commonly support the use of tools such as e-collars, or choke chains, while also focusing on using toys and treats as training currency.

Balanced-based dog training is science-based and while it uses aversive tools similar to traditional dog training, the two techniques do not share the same foundation of wolf pack and dominance theory.

it does not support the use of disproven dog training theories such as wolf pack and dominance theory.

Positive reinforcement

Positive training is a method that relies on positive reinforcement and environment management to train a dog. A combination of the two strategies is not only meant to teach commands, but to also create a confident dog who is excited about training.

Positive reinforcement is when the dog is given a reward for desired behavior such as following commands or loose leash walking. These rewards can include toys, treats, playtime, praise, or anything the dog finds rewarding. The goal of this technique is that the dog associates the desired command or behavior with a positive feeling, motivating them to want to perform the behavior.

environment management is when the trainer modifies a dogs environment to prevent them from building bad habits. For example, if you don't want you dog to chew on shoes, you would keep your shoes somewhere the dog cant reach them and instead, provide them with a bone or toys that they are allowed to chew. Eventually over time, you will allow your dog more freedoms, but only after they have built the habits you want them to have. The idea is that if you set your dog up for success, they are less likely to fail.

Many trainers agree that positive training will not work for every dog, however some feel it may be one of the best methods for service dog training. The ideal service dog candidate is self-motivated and will take initiative when it comes to training, meaning their handler should rarely need aversive training methods to communicate with them, making positive reinforcement a good training strategy for service prospects.

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