Dog training is perhaps one of the most important aspects of owning any kind of dog. It can mean the difference between a healthy and happy relationship between dog and owner. One who has not been well-trained usually has problems with his pet and most of his actions can be categorized as detrimental and undesirable. The question however is that, how much should dog training consist of and what sort of results can be expected from it? This article aims to address these questions and provide you with useful insights into this important aspect of dog ownership.
Dog training in simple terms is the application of behaviour analysis that makes use of the pet dog’s antecedent and subsequent environment to change the dog’s behaviour, either to help in certain tasks or undertake certain activities, or for it not to engage actively in modern domestic life. Dog trainers, therefore, need to be highly skilled individuals who can make a lasting and positive impact on the dog’s behavior. Some of the tasks for which dog training may be required include house training, obedience training, tracking, agility, swimming, and sports (such as tennis, polo and horse riding). The first two categories, house training and obedience training, are relatively easier to understand and teach compared to the other tasks, while the last one, tracking, may require specialised training methods such as electronic collars. Therefore, it is important that you consider hiring a qualified trainer for each of these important tasks. To get started with house training, a good trainer will be able to teach you the basics: making sure that your dog has his collar on, that he understands the word ‘no’ and that you are only using force when you need to.
A good example of a dog training method that uses physical force is known as the operant method, named after the dog trainer, Johnnie Patten, who introduced this technique while teaching his pet dog,inkerbell, how to lie down and stay down. According to the operant method, the dog is made to lie down on the floor on his side with his nose to the ground and his hands raised, so that his body forms an ‘X’. Following this, Patten then makes the dog lie down facing him, and then makes him touch the floor with his nose.
The problem with this dog training method is that the dog does not learn anything by doing this. He may learn to lie down on the floor more frequently and may even learn to ignore the command that triggers him to lie down, but this is it. His behavior does not change because he has not learned anything yet. It is not surprising then that many trainers resort to punishing their dogs through harsh punishments, such as hitting or shaking, in an attempt to correct this kind of undesirable behavior.
A more humane and effective alternative to operant dog training is called progressive reinforcement. In this method, the dog is rewarded for performing the desired behavior. For example, if he obeys the command to lie down, the leash can be tightened and he will be rewarded with a pat in the head or some other sort of positive reward. Eventually, with continuous practice, he will start to ignore the command to lie down, and instead execute the command when receiving a treat. When this happens, his ability to learn may be lessened, but not altogether eliminated.
In the third category, we come to positive reinforcements. The most common of these is positive praising or rewarding the dog for performing the desirable behavior. This is often done in the form of treats, but praise can also be given through a verbal cue or noise. Again, with constant practice, the dog will eventually learn to ignore negative behavior and focus on the positive. Some experts recommend that a combination of the two be used. That is, positive praising and a noise or other form of negative reinforcement should be used in conjunction with the dog training methods described above to maximize results.
If you want to train your dogs without having to use any force at all, you must employ the use of human-like touch and voice commands. These commands will not actually teach your dogs anything, but will teach your dog that the person is in charge. As human-like as they are, these touch and voice commands are easy for the dogs to understand and do as long as you have consistent training and continue to apply the methods. The touch and voice commands can be simple things like “sit,” “stay,” or “down.” As long as you use them consistently, your dog will eventually learn to be obedient without any physical force.
The point is, there are various methods available for teaching your dogs. You don’t have to rely on shock collars, electric eels, or other harsh tools. All you need to know is which method will work best for you and which methods are the safest. Keep in mind, however, that the best dog training methods will teach your dog to be obedient without using any physical force.