In a perfect world you wouldn’t have to punish your dog.
Your dog would do everything you told them to do because you have a reward for them.
But I get calls about people who want to do positive reinforcement only dog training and they are having trouble because it isn’t working like they thought it would. I am going to tell you why in this article.
I have had ups and downs before I truly understood what dog training was about. I watched Cesar Milan and thought I had to be dominant over a dog. I would visit dog training stores who always marketed to positive reinforcement only training.
No wonder people are confused about who to choose as a dog trainer. There are conflicting views and opinions. Who is right? Well let me start off by saying that neither are always right. But I want you to think about something.
If I give a dog a treat it will encourage him to keep doing what he was doing. But how do I get a dog to stop a behavior. I can’t distract a dog forever with a treat. And this is exactly what positive reinforcement only trainers do.
I watched an episode of Cesar Millan where he wanted to prove a positive only trainer wrong. The trainer was sticking to their ideas of using absolutely no force. I forget what type of dog it was but the trainer was struggling to get the dog not to charge at people and jump on them. Cesar did the exact same thing and it took seconds to get the dog under control. This same pattern of the inadequate trainer and the competent Cesar played out in different scenarios.
Seeing it play out like this I thought to myself why is the positive reinforcement only trainer sticking to doing what doesn’t work. Why doesn’t he observe Cesar and do what works. I realized why and Im going to share with you some lies and problems with positive reinforcement only dog training. It’s about holding on to an ideology instead of getting results. I am an advocate for the least aversive experience for the dog, but sometimes a correction is necessary. Here is what I hear:
Reasons positive reinforcement only trainers give
“You have to stay patient”
I hear this one a lot and sometimes these trainers will blame the owner’s lack of persistance for the reason the dog isn’t getting it. I first think it is unprofessional to blame the customer, especially if they are using the method that the trainer taught them.
Another reason why this doesn’t work is because It needs to be a perfect scenario
Positive reinforcement only can work but it often doesn’t work alone to help serious problem behaviors.. This is because we don’t live in a perfect world. We have distractions and changes.
A dog needs enough SUCCESSFUL reps to get the right picture. If they are dog reactive and you successfully get them to not react around dogs 9 times out of 10, the 1 time that they react can set your training all the way back. Some might argue that if this happens then the dog was probably not ready to be so close around the other dogs. And I would have to agree. But the true problem is that there is no consequence for their actions.
They are coming from a place of human psychology and not dog psychology.
Many people feel bad for a dog. They think that every time they see a dog with their head down that the dog was abused. When in reality this is a social show of submission. It has nothing to do with a dog being abused.
It is important that you understand that dogs are not humans. When we treat dogs as if they are humans then we are showing we really don’t care about them. We care more about our viewpoints than giving our dogs what they actually need- Rules and boundaries and understanding.
There are some more stuff but Im not trying to go on too much of a rant.
You have to stay patient but it shouldn’t take forever to get results.
Since you are not stopping the behavior you will never feel truly confident that your dog wont display that behavior with positive reinforcement only dog training.
Dog are dogs, not humans. Treat them as humans and you will be doing a disservice to them.
Hope you guys enjoyed. let me know your experience with different dog training methods in the comments or email.
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