Understanding Training Methods

Training has two reasons, do and don’t. First is basic manners, to perform certain behaviors on cue like sit, down come, stay and walk politely. Don’ts include don’t jump, pull on leashes, run away, take candy from the kids, and the like.

“Do” Basics

There are countless ways to train dogs. Training basics falls into one of or all of these categories:

  1. Lure-Reward Training — The trainer entices the dog into doing the behavior by using hand held food.
  2. Compulsion-Praise Training — The trainer physically puts the dog into position. Reinforcement may be verbal praise or food.
  3. Marker-Training — The trainer uses a word, sound or clicker to immediately praise the behavior. Then the marker is followed up by a reward.
Boy Holding Puppy

“Don’t” Behaviors

Two training approaches for reducing these behaviors:

1. Train an incompatible/replacement behavior.  2. Employ an undesirable (to the dog) consequence.

Train a replacement behavior. The first thing that most reward based trainers do is to reduce behavior by replacing it with a good behavior or incompatible one. Like to stop jumping on people, a dog may be still or sit when his owner walks in. This prevents him from jumping.

Undesirable consequences. When a dog really knows what he should not be doing, a trainer may use consequences to reduce the likelihood for the behavior reoccurring.

• Good things stop — A trainer removes something desirable to the dog, like a brief time out or ignoring the dog when he doesn’t comply.
• Bad things happen — Positive punishment is when something happens like a sharp verbal reprimand. The dog can receive a collar check or correction when he does the undesirable behavior.
• Bad things stop — Technically called negative reinforcement: the trainer removes something undesirable the moment the dog engages in the desired behavior. For example, the technique called “be a tree”—standing still as long as the dog is pulling on leash—falls into this category. The moment the dog stops pulling, the trainer moves forward, rewarding the loose leash.

Rottweiler Dog

Note: These are not the only approaches to changing undesirable behavior. For more information, consult with your trainer or behavioral professional.

Judge the approach that’s best for you and your dog

Reward trainers may employ a combination of all of the above techniques—both do and don’t do. This will show you what kind of trainer you have. Consider this when talking to trainers to find the right one for you. Their philosophy should be compatible with your personal philosophy, your dog’s needs and temperament.

Posted with permission from the APDT site: http://www.apdt.com/

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