When clients ask what the best dog training methods are, it really is a somewhat broad question. Generally speaking, dogs can differ greatly from one individual to the next!
With that in mind, it’s important to remember that a few core dog training methods and principles provide the best way to teach your dog effectively with the least potential harm done.
We use these best dog training methods in all of our courses and programs, but I’ll describe them more for you below!
The Dangers of Choosing the Wrong Training Method
Some people might think there is no “wrong” way to train a dog. They are dead wrong. When you go about training using improper, outdated, and potentially dangerous methods your dog and your own health can suffer for it.
The most commonly-used dangerous dog training method varies in name but uses the same concepts. Some call it the “dominance theory” some call it “pack theory” or “leader of the pack” training.
Oftentimes people refer to parts of this training as “corrections” or “aversives.” All of these descriptions are fancy ways to say you use punishment and fear with your dog. There is never any circumstance to use these types of methods.
The Unspoken Side Effects of Punishment
Punishment impacts your dog’s training in multiple ways. The first and potentially most important is the bond with your dog. When your dog interacts with you, they should associate you with good things happening.
Affection, love, fun, play, happiness; all of these should be descriptive words for your relationship with your dog.
When you introduce punishment into the equation, your relationship with your dog becomes one of fear, dominance, pain, confusion, and anger.
Not only does this impact the relationship you have with your dog, but it can impact the way the view the world as well.
People who use punishment with dogs can cause unwanted associations that they didn’t realize would happen. A person who uses a quick smack to correct their dog can create a negative association with hands coming towards their face.
A dog punished for jumping on strangers can develop a fear or aggression towards strangers through their association with punishment.
Punishment can be particularly harmful for dogs who are more fearful or anxious, or can cause these behaviors to develop and impact the rest of the dog’s life.
The Best Dog Training Methods
So what are the best ways to train your dog? Using positive reinforcement and rewarding your dog for doing what is expected or asked of them.
Positive reinforcement can get a bad reputation among pet owners occasionally. This typically occurs because a poor dog trainer relies only on positive reinforcement to fix problem behaviors.
Fixing problem behaviors takes management on several different levels. You can use positive reinforcement in your training, and never use punishment or aversion, while still regulating your dog’s schedule and addressing their needs and behavior on a deeper level than “I give my dog a treat when he does good!”
Combining Your Training Methods
Barking is a great example of this, and is a common behavior that pet owners resort to punishment for.
Many trainers use only a behavioral approach to barking, trying to teach an alternate behavior or a redirection, and reinforcing the dog when they do so.
But they fail to prevent the constant repetition of the behavior, and to address the underlying source of the barking.
In our Ultimate Barking Solution, we utilize positive reinforcement methods, but we also ensure that you understand the cause of the behavior and all of the other elements that go into stopping the constant barking.
Using a combination of effective management, prevention, and positive reinforcement, you can stop problem behaviors without resorting to bad training methods that can adversely impact your dog.
What The Best Dog Training Methods do For Anxious Dogs
Positive reinforcement at its core is good for the animal you are working with. It creates a better bond and a positive association with you, training sessions, and whatever interaction you are doing.
In doing so, it can really help an anxious or fearful dog become less so. When a dog is uncertain of their surroundings or afraid of the unknown, teaching them that good things happen when they explore and interact is important.
The methods we use in our training programs also gives dogs autonomy during training sessions. You might not realize it, but a dog having control over what happens to them, where they go and what they do, is actually very important.
When we can, we want to allow a dog to opt out of participating in a training session if they want to.
When you give a dog control over where they go and what they do, and reinforce them for participating, you show them that good things happen when they trust you.
They learn that not only do they have control over what happens to them, thus reducing their anxiety, but also that doing new things is fun and exciting rather than scary.
What Positive Reinforcement Can Do For You
Using positive reinforcement makes your dog’s overall behavior better. They are more motivated to participate in training sessions and interact with you.
They build a better bond with you each training session that occurs. You also develop a bond of trust, so that if you do need to force a dog to do something they don’t want to do, such as go to the vet, it doesn’t destroy your relationship and trust.
Through long-term training using positive reinforcement you create positive associations with you, your training sessions, learning new things, interacting with others, going new places, and much more.
You can use positive reinforcement methods to help your dog overcome any number of obstacles in a healthy way that will last. These dog training methods help you develop behaviors that last over the long run.
If you want to learn more about how to use positive reinforcement and healthy management, both to fix problem behaviors and prevent them from occurring in the first place, take a look at our various training programs!