There is really no single way to train a dog. Cultures all over the world have been domesticating dogs for thousands of years – and created numerous dog training techniques to train them. Significant creative energy has been put into dog training, and so dog owners today have many methods to choose from.
Choosing the right training method for your dog can be a daunting task. However, experts offer guidance on which method is right for each kind of dog. Here are just a few of the most popular dog training techniques:
1. Positive Reinforcement
In positive reinforcement training, the trainer rewards the dog for good behavior. Sometimes trainers use treats or kibble to reward pups. Trainers will then ignore bad behavior or withhold treats when a dog doesn’t behave well.
Owners often use a “clicker” device* (Amazon Affiliate Link) to signal instantly when a dog has done something good. When the dog hears the clicker, they know that a treat will follow. Clickers can also be useful in getting your dog to pay attention to you in order to be able to listen to the command.
Positive reinforcement is a good method for teaching tricks. It can also work for general behavioral training, but may not be as helpful in adjusting or redirecting an already-formed behavior or habit. For example, if your dog is in the habit of chasing the mail carrier, positive-only training may not help as much as another method.
2. Respect-Based Training
This is an alternative to the popular positive-only training. It allows trainers to both reward their dog and effectively teach them to avoid bad behavior. The dog learns to respect their owner because there are both positive and negative consequences.
A trainer can signal that a behavior was good in a number of ways. For example, treats, extra playtime, extra petting, and positive verbal cues are all rewards for a behavior. Some trainers can even display a positive facial expression and it’s effective. There’s also the clicker, which is useful for respect-based training as well as positive reinforcement.
Negative consequences can also be a variety of things. Don’t worry, they’re nothing to be afraid of. They can include cues using facial expressions, the voice, body language, hand gestures, or gentle leash cues. You never need to use violence to get a dog to respect you.
In the end, this respect-based training method may be less confusing to your dog than positive-only training because they get a clear consequence for every behavior.
3. Model-Rival Training
Model-rival training, or mirror training, is a method where the dog is expected to follow the example of a human who is being “trained” by someone. The model and the dog may compete for resources, such as treats. Whoever follows the trainer’s command gets to eat the treat. This sense of competition encourages the dog to learn more quickly.
If you feel overwhelmed by the task of training a new dog, you might want to hire a dog trainer or get advice from a canine-loving friend.
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