May 28, 2017

The Future of Dog Training Explained

It's Robin! Usually I let Christmas do all the typing, but I feel like my blog sometimes needs more educational aspects to it, especially because I have a thing or two to say about the way we train our dogs. This is a long post, but I insist that you read it because it's important. Dogs were domesticated from wolves thousands of years ago to guard our homes, work on our farms, and be our companions. They were bred specifically to please and work alongside people. Sadly, this is something many people ignore-or take for granted-without even realizing it.

Dogs are intelligent, social creatures with complex needs and emotions. They likely come from wolves and share their heritage, but they are, by no means, wolves. So why do we train using dominance instead of positive reinforcement? Why does pinning a dog down when it growls to make it "submissive" seem okay? It shouldn't seem okay. Dogs are not wolves, they've evolved to feed off of what we teach them. Panting while being prodded in the neck isn't submission. Why not get to the root of the problem, as to why the dog is growling, and build up your dog's confidence to the trigger with the aid of your special bond instead?

Positive methods are no longer an opinion as to what is more natural and effective when it comes to teaching our dogs. It's technically the normal way, because the dominance-based way shouldn't exist in the first place and science tells us that force-free methods are definitely more natural and effective. Dogs were created to feed off our bond with them, so why are we suddenly pretending we live in a wolf pack and we have to "dominate" our furry family members?

Take this situation as an example. A dog doesn't walk well on a leash, so the owner uses a prong collar to adjust his behavior. The dog learns "whenever this collar is on it really hurts when I pull, so because I'm scared and I don't want to get hurt or make the human mad I won't pull". Suppose another dog doesn't walk nicely on a leash, so the owner rewards the dog every time he walks nicely and keeps his focus on his owner. The dog learns "whenever I pay attention my owner and listen to him I get good things so I'm gonna keep walking nicely so my owner is happy and I'm more comfortable. I also know now I'm learning more about my person and I know training is fun. I have a better bond with my person and I'll learn anything from him now that I understand training isn't a negative experience".

See the difference? One dog learns from pain, one dog learns from a trusting relationship with their person, something totally natural, more natural than prong collars, to your dog. And the dog that learns from pain, well, he isn't actually learning anything. He learns it hurts to pull when he wears a prong collar, not to actually walk nicely. Let's tell our dogs what to do instead of what not to do. The dog with the prong collar will go back to pulling and being anxious when that prong collar comes off, the owner won't have a trusting relationship with the dog, and the problem will get worse and worse, nasty prong collar or not. Those "untrainable" dogs usually are dubbed that after not reacting, or reacting negatively, after being taught with scary methods.

The situation can be anything, but let me give barking as an example. When your dog barks at the door like a maniac when he hears the knocking of a door or the ringing of a doorbell, will spraying him in the face with cold water or yelling at him work? Why not put your dog on a leash near the door, get his focus on you and reward him for looking at you, and have a friend knock on the door? When your dog stays focused on you after the knock, reward and repeat these sessions until your dog is totally glued to you and ready to obey you, doing his job of being a good boy who loves to learn whenever someone comes over.

Training isn't something to dread for both you and your pup. Training isn't something agitating or forceful. Training is a time to learn more about your dog's body language and for your dog to trust you and adore you even more. With positive methods based on the love you have for your pup, your dog will obey you and trust you more, will understand what to do instead of just what not to do, will be emotionally balanced, eager and quick to learn, and will be tentative to what you want to tell him.

Why choose outdated, ineffective methods when you can have a bond with your dog instead?


  1. Great post. We'd say it isn't the future. it's NOW!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  2. Lady uses reinforcement over punishment too! Great post.

  3. I agree with you... to learn things the hard way is not my way... and even when it takes longer, I prefer patience and love instead waterguns and fears&pains...

  4. Well spoken. I love clicker training. Lucy even sees the clicker and she get excited about training. Positive reinforcement works so much better.

    Katie, the momma


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