There are so many different thoughts and ideas out there of how you should train your dog. But which one to choose, and does it really make a difference? Yes! The training techniques and methods that are used on your dog can make or break a relationship that you have with your dog, as well as make certain behaviors worse, and can cause new, unwanted behaviors.
So let’s talk about harsh correction and punishment methods. The whole idea based on these techniques is that the dog is punished and corrected for unwanted behavior so that the behavior will stop. So what’s wrong with this type of thinking? Well, a few of things. First, it involves pain for the dog. Second, it’s telling the dog what you don’t want instead of what you do want. Another problem with using punishment is it can cause secondary unwanted behaviors such as fear and anxiety.
For instance, let’s talk about jumping on people. A technique that often is used with harsh methods of training is to knee a dog in order to stop the dog from jumping on a person. First, you have to inflict enough pain in order for this to work, and who really wants to hurt their dog anyway? Another problem is that it doesn’t teach the dog how to be calm around people which prevents jumping in the first place. In addition, the dog begins to associate greeting people with pain, which can cause a fearful and reactive dog. When using punishment with behavioral problems such as aggression, it usually makes it worse and causes new problems.
Now let’s discuss Positive Reinforcement and Reward Based techniques. With this method of training, the dog is ignored for the unwanted behavior, and then praised and rewarded for offering the correct behavior. The dog then will repeat the correct behavior, because “good stuff” happens, and the unwanted behavior diminishes. Positive Reinforcement also helps build a bond between dog and owner, as well as letting the dog use their brain, which provides mental stimulation.
Let’s take the same jumping scenario. The dog jumps up, but instead of kneeing the dog, you turn your back and ignore the unwanted jumping behavior. When all four paws are on the ground and the dog is calm, you praise and reward your dog. With repetition, he will quickly figure out that jumping does not gain your attention. It’s only when he’s calm and has four on the floor that you reward him. What’s nice about this technique is you don’t have to cause pain to stop the jumping. You’re letting him figure out how he needs to act to get gain your attention, which is using his brain. Most importantly you’re not damaging your relationship. This type of training is not just successful for basic obedience, but it is also highly successful and recommended for behavior modification such as aggression and anxiety.