Dog Training Philosophies

There are two predominant schools of theory when it comes to training dogs. The first is that all dogs can be trained with only positive motivation. An example of this is the currently popular "clicker method" of dog training. To further explain- A pup or dog is coaxed to a particular behavior. A reward is then given for that behavior. With the Clicker Method the clicker clicks once and the dog is rewarded with a pea-size food treat, preferably fresh meat or cheese. At first the dog doesn't have a clue what he did right, any more than he knows what he did wrong.

However, after many repetitions, he will connect a specific behavior with the reward. Later he will connect that particular behavior with the verbal command. With this theory if the dog makes an error or offers an incorrect behavior during the learning phase, it should just be ignored. The philosophy is that any behavior not reinforced "positively or negatively" will extinguish itself. The incorrect response should be allowed to squelch itself naturally. Desired behaviors are rewarded and reinforced with treats and lots of praise.

The second thinking is that some form of punishment is essential to the successful training of a dog. The William Koehler method of dog training is an example of this philosophy. To further explain-The corrective action should immediately stop unwanted behavior and be strong enough to make an impression on the dog. The type of correction depends upon the dog. To some dogs a stern voice is duress enough, other dogs may require a stronger form of compulsion. Correction should be given immediately when the dog does something wrong-"No" (the verbal correction) followed with a leash correction (if needed) then the command repeated, for example, "SIT."

Praise should be given as an acknowledgement for the correct action or behavior. If a dog is confused or stressed, he will almost certainly make mistakes and that is not disobedience. Dogs can be encouraged toward right actions with rewards. A reward reassures the dog and affirms that he is doing a good job. A "party" atmosphere should prevail as soon as the dog correctly responds to a verbal or leash correction. Toys, food rewards and play are the appropriate way to respond when a dog carries through to the proper action. Obedience to a command is an invitation to celebrate.

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