If you’ve just gotten a dog or already have one that needs training, your choices regarding training methods impact the animal’s happiness, well-being, and general success. Dogs thrive the most when they’re well-trained in a structured way, but there are more choices for training styles than you’d think. Read through a few of the most popular methods and examine the tradeoffs that come with each to decide what dog training method is right for you.
Positive Reinforcement Training
Positive reinforcement training is among the most popular methods today. It’s based almost exclusively on the concept of rewarding the dog for positive or desired behaviors, incentivizing dogs to repeat these behaviors.
Corrections aren’t a part of this kind of training; when the dog performs an undesirable behavior, owners and trainers ignore said behavior, so keep that in mind when you consider how to decide what dog training method is right for you.
The biggest problem with this kind of training is that progress is sometimes slow. It often takes time to get positive behaviors from your dog and have them repeated, and sometimes just ignoring a negative behavior won’t eliminate it. Positive reinforcement is a fantastic tool for experienced trainers, but it’s easy for novices to make common dog training mistakes when attempting this method.
Scientific training is harder to define, as it implements constantly changing and developing concepts. The central concept is to start by understanding a dog’s psychology and why both good and bad behaviors occur.
As with positive reinforcement, operant conditioning is a central tenet, but some scientific trainers maintain that it’s crucial to focus on strengthening good behaviors without using rewards. The dog’s psychology comes into play when it comes to off-leash behaviors and strengthening the bond between owners and their dogs. The downside of this kind of training is that it requires plenty of reading and research to stay on top of the latest information and the concepts you should employ.
Clicker training is one of the most powerful and fastest ways to train a dog. It takes operant conditioning to the next level by extending reward training and associating it with a simple click from a tiny plastic clicker.
As superficial as it sounds, this tactic works incredibly well, provided the clicks are well-timed. It’s easier to associate the click with positive behaviors, and dogs tend to pick up on this very quickly. The downside is that it’s not as good for eliminating bad behaviors, so keep that in mind if you’re searching for a corrective training method.