Positive Does Not Mean Permissive

clicker in hand

Positive training focuses on training the behavior we want using positive reinforcement (stuff the dog likes) to increase that behavior and establish new patterns of behavior.  We don’t let the dog “run amok” and do anything it wants.  We decide how we want the dog to act in a given situation and train for that.  We do set expectations for behavior and act consistently to reinforce good behavior and teach self control.  We do manage the environment to encourage the behavior we want and we do stop the dog from behaving in an unacceptable manner. 

The key is setting the dog up to succeed and rewarding success, not setting up the dog to fail and punishing that failure.  The clicker is a simple tool that allows the trainer to precisely mark the wanted behavior, and then deliver something the dog wants (food, toy, activity) after the click.

Smiling dog

Training should be fun!

Fun for the dog and fun for the handler.  Really – if is not fun, why do it?  Why do you have a dog if not to enjoy it’s company?  If you and your dog enjoy the training process, you will look forward to training sessions, learn more easily, and  accomplish your training goals more quickly than if you see training as a chore or worse, as a battle of wills.

Frequently, when I start working with a new client, they believe that they have to speak to their dog in a harsh, commanding tone.  This is an unfortunate leftover from “old school” dog training that emphasized domination and intimidation of the dog to achieve compliance.  This kind of training used physical punishment to back up the threat implied by the harsh tone of voice.  We know better now. 
Training with positive reinforcement establishes a clear system of communication with your dog that allows you to quickly train new behaviors and observe your dog eagerly participating in the process. 

Training should be effective
Guide Dogs For The Blind now uses clickertraining to train all of their dogs, and they have greatly increased the percentage of dogs graduating from their programs since they have changed over to force-free training.  If it works for them, it will work for you.

clickertraining infographic

I help dog owners transform their untrained animals into focused companions and responsive performance dogs – private, in-home training available in the Portland, Oregon metro area and training for attention and recall available online.  www.TrainPositiveDog.com   971-255-7466

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