All Positive Dog Training Isn’t Ideal
By Jason Wright
October 27, 2021
Why Balanced Dog Training is the Best Approach
At iTK9 we use a Balanced Dog Training approach and are very transparent in how we achieve such great results with our clients. Below we attempt to set the record straight on why all positive training doesn’t work best for most dogs and why a balanced approach works better.
Using positive and negative reinforcement is only half the battle. Positive and negative reinforcement only shows the dog what you want and increases the likelihood of a desired behaviour. While using positive and negative punishment decreases the likelihood of an undesired behaviour. This is why it is important to use a balanced approach while training your dog.
Punishment is a part of all species learning. This is something that all dog owners must come to terms with. We, in no way, endorse being cruel to any animal. It is important that the correction/punishment fits the crime and that proper timing and intensity be used. This will all depend on the dog’s temperament, behaviour challenges and environment. To understand these elements at play, you should talk to a professional trainer. Without a proper education, either through trusted mediums or years of experience, they can be difficult to identify.
Operant Conditioning is the training methodology that takes a more balanced approach to dog training and is what we utilize at iTK9. It incorporates rewards and consequences in your dog’s training and helps reinforce a happy and obedient lifestyle for your dog. Below we discuss 4 quadrants of Operant Conditioning.
Negative reinforcement can be defined as the removal of a negative action on your dog once the desired outcome has been achieved. One example often given is pushing down on your dog’s rear end after the sit command has been given. Once your dog sits, the pressure on their rear is removed.
Negative Punishment is often in reaction to an undesired action performed by your dog where you remove something desirable. This can include taking a ball away from your dog when he/she becomes possessive of it and acts out aggressively.
Positive Punishment is the inclusion of an unwanted action towards your dog after an undesired action has been performed. An example would be a spray of a Pet Corrector or leash correction if your dog jumps up on a child.
Positive Reinforcement is one of the most commonly used training quadrants and includes the introduction of something positive for your dog after a positive action has been completed. This may be a treat after you have commanded your dog to sit and they have done so.
Properly applying a variety of all quadrants of learning/operant conditioning will help ensure communication is clear and will give your dog the best chance of success.
When discussing balanced dog training, it is important to touch on the term aversive. An aversive is really anything unpleasant to your dog. Aversive techniques can be used in training and can be anything from the pressure a dog feels from a leash correction on a flat collar or the pinch from a prong collar.
Perhaps you have installed an invisible fence to help protect your dog. In order for the fence to be effective, there is a electronic collar worn which gives the dog a high level stimulation if they pass a set boundary. Your dog will work to avoid the stimulation caused by the electronic collar and as such, this stimulation is an aversive or negative reinforcement when used on low levels.
Tools in Balanced Dog Training
There are many tools that can be used in conjunction with balanced dog training. The most common and well known of which are electric and prong collars. There are a few others including sprays or sound emulators such as Pet Corrector which emits a blast of compressed air. These tools, when used effectively, can aid in your training and ensure negative actions are associated with uncomfortable outcomes or to help bring the attention back to the handler. Again, timing and intensity are key elements in all training. Please do not utilize any tools in your training without proper education as you may injure your pet.
The iTK9 Way
As stated above, iTK9 uses a balanced dog training approach in that we use positive training techniques along side negative training techniques. Take a look at our success stories online or reviews on Google – we are effective in our training. The dogs that go through our programs go home happy and obedient family companions. We are happy to discuss our methods with you. Please reach out today if you are looking to properly train your dog.