YOU MAY NOT REALISE, BUT...
There are actually three different schools of dog training, and it is important to pick the one that is right for you. The internet can be a minefield of differing opinions and misinformation which is why we have written this article to enable you to make an informed decision.
SO WHY CHOOSE A BALANCED APPROACH?
The two most common types of training used in the modern day are Positive Reinforcement Only (now sometimes known as ‘force-free’ which is quite offensive to balanced trainers), and Balanced Training.
Both schools of training use food rewards, toy rewards, verbal, and physical rewards, redirectional changes, freeshaping and luring. These are all positive reinforcement techniques and are used to mark a behaviour which we would like the dog to repeat.
The reason why we believe that positive reinforcement alone is not enough is because often, particularly with dogs who have behavioural problems, the dog’s desire to commit unwanted behaviours is stronger than their desire to receive a reward and please their owner. This can lead to dangerous scenarios such as dog fights, dog bites, owners being pulled into the road, dogs being run over. The list goes on...
The other side to this is that dogs need structure and a strong leader to feel secure. If you are unable to control your dog’s behaviour or deal with situations that they may find stressful then you are not a strong leader in their eyes. (They will still love you, but they may not feel safe with you). Not only that but we sometimes use the analogy of taking your child to visit someone’s home. If you went to a friend’s home and your child started jumping on the sofas and knocking ornaments off the shelves, would you ignore their behaviour? No, you wouldn’t, you would hold them accountable. If they sat nicely, would you reward them? If they were young children, you very likely would. So why would your dog be any different?
In balanced training corrections administered at incorrect times, with the wrong equipment or the wrong strength can be detrimental, so too can administering rewards at incorrect times. For example, trying to reward a reactive dog can be difficult because if you catch them at the wrong time, you will reward the reactivity, and therefore reinforce the behaviour which you are trying to stop.
At Yorkshire K9 we also work with high drive working dogs, and rescue dogs with severe problems. Many of our clients come to us because they have tried the positive only approach and plateaued with their training. Of course, wherever possible we would love to use positive only reinforcement but in reality, it's just not possible. We are transparent in our training and we are happy to discuss the reason why we take a balanced approach, and what equipment that we use…. All you need to do is ask. 😊
Here are a couple of interesting articles that are definitely worth a read if you are in two minds about what training school to go with, or to learn a bit more. One is written by a dog owner and one is written by a top class dog trainer.