Training Techniques

Most trainers today use a much more positive method than those used many years ago. Trainers have found that the more compulsive training techniques, which were forceful ("You will do it!")

and used leash corrections and a harsh verbal correction when the dog made a mistake, weren't much fun for dog or owner. The dogs usually disliked the training sessions and, as a result, were rarely compliant or cooperated out of fear. Of course, owners rarely enjoyed the training, either.

Today, there is a wide variety of training techniques, but the two most prevalent ones are:

♦ Positive training: Many trainers use what is often referred to as purely positive training. No corrections at all are used, and the dog is helped to do the right thing and then rewarded for it. Most positive trainers use a clicker, and all use either food or other motivators, depending on the dog.

♦ Balanced training: Balanced training uses techniques from both positive trainers and compulsive trainers. They feel the positive techniques can be powerful training tools and use them eagerly, but also feel that dogs can learn from making a mistake. Letting the dog know that he has made a mistake may range from withholding a treat and praise to giving a verbal correction or a snap and release of the leash.

No matter which techniques are used, almost all trainers agree that dogs need to be taught what to do rather than simply be corrected for bad behavior. When a dog knows what acceptable behavior is and is consistently rewarded for doing it, he no longer needs to engage in the "bad" behavior.

A group class can be full of distractions but can be fun, with dogs and owners all getting to know each other. Group class photo at Kindred Spirits Canine Education Center in Vista, California.

Discipline Is Not a Bad Word

Discipline Is Not a Bad Word

Many dog trainers and owners who embrace purely positive training techniques seem to feel that discipline is a bad word. But behaviorists and psychologists agree that discipline is not about corrections or punishment, and it's not about withholding rewards; instead, discipline is about leadership. Your dog needs a leader, and that leader must be you.

You, as your dog's leader, should have a vision of what you want the dog to grow up to be. Do you want him to sit for petting instead ofjumping on people? Good! Do you want him to walk nicely on the leash? Wait for permission to go through open doors? Lie nicely on his rug while people eat? That vision can then be broken down into smaller, short-term, achievable goals.

Good leadership is all about high expectations and good communication. With those things in mind, you help your dog help himself. For example, a long-term goal could be that your dog will not jump on people. You then can teach him to sit for petting and praise. When he jumps up, use your voice: "Ack! No jump!" and help your dog sit. When he sits on his own, you praise and reward him.

Your body language, voice, and eye contact all convey to your dog that you have expectations for his good behavior and you expect him to comply. That's leadership. And discipline.

For example, dogs jump on people out of excitement and to greet people face to face—a very natural behavior for dogs. They don't understand, however, that jumping on people ruins clothes and knocks people down. A dog can be corrected in any number of ways not to jump up, but if he is only corrected, he will continue to jump up because he doesn't know what to do to get the attention he wants. In addition, with the corrections, he will become more and more anxious. However, if he is taught to sit and is greeted and petted in the sitting position, he no longer needs to jump up. The jumping will disappear.

To find a trainer in your area, ask for referrals. The veterinarians in your area will know who is good and who isn't because their clients tell them. If you see a nicely behaved dog walking down the sidewalk, ask the owner where they went for training. After you collect a few referrals, call and ask if you can come watch one of the trainer's classes. Leave your dog at home and just go and watch. Would you be comfortable with that trainer's techniques? Would you be able to learn in that class? Would these techniques suit your dog's personality?

Some trainers teach group classes, while others do private training. In a group class, you and your dog attend. The trainer is teaching you and then in class, you and your dog practice together. Group classes can be chaotic, with several other dogs and people attending, but at the same time, your dog can learn to behave himself with those distractions. The classes can be fun, too, as dogs and owners all get to know one another over time.

With private training, the trainer meets with you and your dog alone. Although this training is more expensive than group classes, some dog owners prefer this style of training because they like having the trainer's undivided attention.

Pit Bulls as Pets

Pit Bulls as Pets

Are You Under The Negative Influence Of Hyped Media Stereotypes When It Comes To Your Knowledge Of Pit Bulls? What is the image that immediately comes into your mind when you think of the words Pit Bull? I can almost guarantee that they would be somewhere close to fierce, ferouscious, vicious, killer, unstoppable, uncontrollable, or locking jawed man-eaters.

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