What is Positive Training in Puppy School?

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Who doesn’t like a smart, playful and obedient dog? We all ooooh and ahhhh over the perfectly behaved dogs playing in the park or walking along the street. But what many people don’t realise is the amount of time and effort taken to achieve this.

It is never easy to train dogs of different breeds. Each breed has different attitudes, behaviours and needs. That’s why we’re taking puppy school seriously. Have you trained your dogs and wondered if it was truly positive training?

In this article, you will learn the elements that make up positive reinforcement training in dogs. But first, let us define positive training.

Positive training can be defined in many ways. According to modern behavioural science, positive training is fundamentally about how we approach everyday communication with our dogs. Positive training aims to avoid the risk of dominance and punishment-based training. In K9 counselling, we provide gentle, effective leadership and aim to better understand the behaviour of dogs while giving them the things they need to succeed in our strange, domestic world.

There’s a lot of misconception around the concept of “positive training”. That’s why it’s important to understand the incorporated techniques, philosophies and stages of awareness on certain unclear topics about positive training to be effective and prevent mistakes.The important thing to remember is that, at its core, it uses positive reinforcement training methods whereby the dog is set up to succeed and rewarded for performing the ‘good’ behaviour.


This approach avoids the pitfalls of dominance and punishment-based training. We do not want our dog to follow us just because he is scared of what will happen if he doesn’t, right?

That’s why we are investing time, effort and money on our dogs by getting a personal dog trainer, or enrolling them in a puppy school: to nurture the harmonious relationship with our dogs.

Like humans, dogs are emotional. So, it is very important for us to consider their emotions both in training and our everyday communication with them. According to researchers, the mind of a dog is roughly equivalent to that of a toddler. Some traits are even similar to those of adult humans. So, when we’re thinking about what we should expect from our dogs, we can look to humans.

A dog has all of the basic emotions, such as joy, anger, disgust, fear, and mostly love. But dogs do not experience more complex emotions like guilt, pride, and shame. For example, you’ve come home and your dog starts sneaking around showing uneasiness, and you then find that he has left a poop on your kitchen floor. It is natural to conclude that the dog was acting in a way that shows that he is feeling guilty about his not-so-little accident. There have been many studies about this so-called “guilty look.”

Despite appearances, the majority of studies conclude that this is not guilt, but simply a display of fear. Your dog has learned that when you appear and his droppings are visible on the floor, you might punish him. What you are actually seeing is a fear of punishment; he will never feel guilt because dogs are not capable of experiencing it.

Dogs are different from humans, who sometimes need to go through the worst times or situations to learn from their mistakes. By contrast, dogs need gentle care and love. And we’re not talking about “tough love”; in this situation, only “positivity” can be associated with this “love”.

Positive training is the best way to train dogs successfully. To further understand positive training, below are the four pillars of positive training:

  1.       Use positive reinforcement
  2.       Avoid the use of intimidation, physical punishment or fear
  3.       Understand the misconception of dominance theory
  4.       Learn about the canine experience from the dog’s point of view

Use positive reinforcement.

Positive reinforcement is considered as the most effective, long-lasting, humane and safest method in dog training by the behavioural science community. Positive reinforcement means that you reward the behaviour you like and, as a result, encourage the desired behaviour to be repeated. With reward training, you simply ignore the “unwanted” behaviours. If a dog isn’t rewarded for the behaviour, they generally stop doing it. Remember: positivity is always better than negativity.

Avoidance of punitive method:

No matter how minimal the punishment you give your dogs, it is still more humane to reward than to punish. Punitive training techniques on dogs make already aggressive dogs more aggressive. It won’t help you discipline your dogs.

Understanding dominance:

Changing behaviour using a framework of dominance can pave the way to dangerous aggression. The most important thing for a dog owner to know is that any bad behaviour of their dog is actually very rarely a result of them attempting to assert dominance over their human. Sincerely understanding dominance is a fundamental key to unlocking the power of positive training.

Using the dog’s point of view:

You cannot build a strong bond with your dog unless you truly understand how he perceives things around him, but to do this effectively you must first learn his language.

Summary

We might encounter different terms to describe positive training, however, the overall message of this philosophy is that it is more effective and humane to reward our dogs than punish them. The more we reward them, the more chance the desired behaviour will be repeated. To successfully do this, it is necessary to understand our dog’s point of view and why the dominance theory should be avoided. Remember: positive inputs produce positive outputs.

Why not come and join Mark at our Puppy School

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