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Training Methods

We use Positive Reinforcement

This is possibly the easiest, most effective consequence for a trainer to control (and easy to understand, too). Positive reinforcement means starting or adding Something Good, something the dog likes or enjoys. Because the dog wants to gain that Good Thing again, it will repeat the behaviour that seems to cause that consequence.

You will see examples of positive reinforcement all over the place in every day life

The worker gets paid for working. The dog gets a piece of liver for returning when called. The cat gets comfort for sleeping on the bed.  The child gets dessert for eating her vegetables. The dog gets attention from his people when he barks. The child gets ice cream for begging incessantly. The toddler gets picked up and comforted for screaming. The dog gets to play in the park for pulling her owner there. 

We also use subtler techniques based on an individual dog's learning style

Some dogs really enjoy follow scent - spaniels for example, bred to help the hunter find food (game birds etc)

Other breed types enjoy herding, so will readily chase after a moving toy 

Knowing what a dog enjoys is key to helping them learn new behaviours

Do we use Punishment?

Not in the way that most people think of it. But we sometimes use a technique that teaches the dog that unwanted behaviour brings no reward at all. We call this - Making the Right Choice. A simple example is the dog that barks for attention. When the barking stops and the dog is still - he gets attention. When he barks, his owner leaves the room. Dogs very quickly make associations. At first he will find the denial of attention "punishing", but he will soon work out the new route to get the fuss he's looking for!

This way we can avoid negative consequences by reinforcing desirable behaviour and offering nothing for unwanted behaviour.

But I've seen different and quick fix ways on the TV....

Yes you will have, but remember - it's a TV show! It's designed to make you watch and believe. But you don't always see what goes on behind the scenes and if you did, you wouldn't want to watch any more.

Physical punishment, abuse and aversive techniques such as shock collars, "corrector" sprays and rattle cans will scare your dog into behaving differently. If someone gave you an electric shock each time you went near a gate, you'd stop going there too - but you'd be a different person as well, you'd be more nervous, maybe a bit angry, maybe you'd look for other ways to get out ....

Dogs are just like wolves, so we just need to become the Pack Leader and our dogs will do what they are told.

Just as we have no room for aversive-based techniques, we also do not support theories based on outdated ideas about wolf pack behaviours that do not apply - either to wild wolf packs or to the domestic dog.

Dogs aren't stupid. They know we are not other dogs. Humans don’t look like, smell like or act like other dogs. When we attempt to "dominate" our dogs, they are actually learning that human beings are something to be frightened of and sometimes that might mean that a dog will need to defend himself - with his teeth!. These techniques not only increase your dog's fearfulness, they do nothing to teach him how to act more appropriately in the first place.. .. 

A WORD OF WARNING - Please read