A trained dog is a happy dog. And not just because their owner is happy. A trained dog knows what your expectations are, knows her role in the house, and can relax. If you’re a dog owner, whether a novice or an expert, you already know this, and you’re looking for the best dog friendly training methods.
The internet is full of advice about different methods, and it can be hard to know which method is right. The research is constantly changing, and at the end of the day, we all just want to do right by our canine kids.
At Dog Friendly Living, we have a very strong stance about the training methods we find to be the most successful. We’ve followed the science and combined it with our experience in dog training. If you want to learn more about dog friendly training, keep reading to find out which methods we love… and how to set your dog up for success!
What Makes Training Dog Friendly?
A dog friendly training method does not focus on establishing dominance or forcing good behavior through fear of punishment. Instead, it promotes understanding why dogs act the way they do and working with their natural behavior to build a trusting relationship.
Dog friendly training helps your dog understand your expectations. Untrained dogs often “act out” because they just don’t know what is expected of them. Dog friendly training helps them learn what you expect, which, in turn, eases their own anxiety. It also helps establish a routine… and dogs thrive on routine.
Positive Reinforcement Training
Without a doubt, positive reinforcement training is our method of choice here at Dog Friendly Living. There are very good reasons why we find this to be the most dog friendly method. If you aren’t certain what positive reinforcement training is, you’re in the right place!
Positive reinforcement relies on rewarding your dog for desired behaviors. Instead of punishing your dog for not behaving the way you want, you offer treats, praise, or a toy for behaving correctly. If you are trying to get your dog not to jump when you walk in the door, you offer a treat when they sit down. Your dog will begin to understand what you want, and you can even get them to the point where these behaviors become second nature, and they no longer require a treat.
Positive reinforcement training is dog friendly not just because dogs are more likely to repeat a behavior if rewarded, but because it makes you and your dog collaborators in training. Positive reinforcement teaches your dog to understand what you want and helps make them want to perform the behavior. It fosters trust and helps promote the human/animal bond.
Why We Don’t Care For Aversive Training
As the name suggests, aversive training works on the principle of causing aversion to a behavior. In other words, it’s punishment based. Prong collars, choke collars, alpha training, and electric collars are all tools used in the aversive training arsenal.
Punitive methods can lead to aggression and often do not address the cause of problem behaviors. They can lead to distrust, and fear, and can even cause your dog to associate the aversive response with something other than the behavior you’re trying to correct.
Some aversive methods have even been debunked since they were based on poor research. The idea of establishing yourself as the “alpha dog” for example, was based on flawed research done on wolves in captivity.
We do not find that aversive training is part of a dog friendly lifestyle, so we do not recommend it to our clients.
Setting Your Dog Up For Success
Dog friendly training methods make it easier for you and your dog to feel successful about how training is going. You and your dog can look forward to training sessions as a fun, bonding experience, almost like a game, instead of something traumatic that they would rather avoid.
Much of the success in training relies on you. As the trainer, your commitment to the task will ultimately determine how well it goes. There are a few things to remember as you embark on your dog training journey.
Be Patient- Your dog will not always learn as quickly as you would like. Sometimes it takes going back and working on something they already know. Especially if you have an older dog, there may be behaviors they have to unlearn as they learn new ones. If you feel frustrated, it's okay to take a break, just don't give up.
Train A Tired Dog- Not a sleepy dog, but a dog that has had some physical activity makes for a great learner. Once they have the wiggles out, your dog will be able to focus better. Work on training after a short walk or a game of catch.
They Aren’t Trying To Make You Mad- Your dog is just trying to figure out her place in a human-dominated world. If she chews your shoe, jumps on visitors, or poops on the rug, there is a reason. You may be accidentally reinforcing some of these behaviors yourself.
Stay Consistent- Dogs do their best if they know what to expect. If you have a routine down, for example: walk, training, dinner; your dog will be much more successful than if training sessions are at random times or if you skip some days and double up on others.
Older Dogs Need Training Too- If you have an older, even elderly, dog, you may think that any poor behaviors they came with are just something you have to deal with. This isn’t the case at all! Training is great for an older dog. It helps them feel more comfortable with their new family, helps eliminate bad habits, and is a great way for you to bond with your older pup.