Dogs have different temperaments which depend on their breed, surrounding, and upbringing. We can’t really say that there’s a one size fits all approach when it comes to training or taming them. Some dogs are just too stubborn to listen to us, there are some that are mild-mannered and are not too hard to train.
That’s why it’s only natural that throughout the years a lot of techniques have been developed in order to deal with said multiple temperaments dogs can have. Identifying which method to use is important for training them is not only for the sake of correcting their behaviors but it’s also for their own good.
Here are 5 of the most popular dog training techniques that you may try for your pup.
Positive Reinforcement Training
Positive reinforcement training is perhaps the most popular method of dog training utilized even today. It’s popular probably because it’s the easiest to apply that dog owner won’t need a professional to help to administer it and at the same time, it doesn’t employ any of the “tougher” techniques used for other methodologies.
Pet or dog owners would then naturally use this approach rather than a more rigid and stricter way to train their dogs simply because they don’t want to be tough on them. This approach is also rewarding for both the owner and the dog (literally) at the same time.
So, how does positive reinforcement training work? Well, it’s very straightforward. All you got to do is treat or reward your dog every time they do a good behavior as they will then tend to repeat these good behaviors time and again and eventually turn it into good habits. Sound simple enough to administer, right?
Well, that’s if your pup is not a stubborn one. Positive reinforcement is easy enough to implement but you will need to be consistent and have a lot of patience with it and your dog. Consistent that as much as possible everyone in the household should treat your dog the same you’re treating them or else it wouldn’t be as effective and all that hard work will go down the drain.
Rewards can be in a form of a treat, toy, petting, and praise. And then, make sure to implement that bad behavior would then lead to the removal of said rewards.
While positive reinforcement is simple and popular to down owners, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s most effective and recommended by experts. Once again, some dogs are just too smart for their own good or too stubborn for this methodology to be as effective as we’d expect. That’s why sometimes, you need a plan B or C or D. If this won’t work, then let’s move on to some other training techniques.
NOTE: Positive reinforcement training is often blended with clicker training as needed.
Alpha Dog or Dominance Training
Alpha dog or dominance training aims to take advantage of a dog’s pack mentality instinct. If you’re not familiar, dogs are like wolves in that there are naturally submissive parts of the pack and at the same time, a leader.
So given that there is a hierarchy going on then naturally the very core concept of this methodology is to be (the owner) the head or leader of the pact. This way, you get your dog or dogs to be submissive to you, listening to your commands and curb if not eliminate bad behavior.
Respect to the pack leader and instinct comes into play here whether that or by a sense of fear, authority, and confidence towards you. In short, your dog knows who’s boss. Indoors they won’t just sit on the furniture or wait quietly and calmly as you prepare their food. Outdoors, they listen to your commands at all times and come when being told to. These are just a few of the benefits.
This methodology though has raised some eyebrows especially from pet owners and other experts. They say that it is outdated and the technique requires for you to be extra tough towards your dog(s) meaning sometimes to administer physical or emotional punishment which does not sit well to some. Not to mention that the said struggle for dominance between you and your dog can be tedious and go the wrong direction and you can strain said relationship.
This methodology was popularized by Cesar Milan, perhaps the most famous celebrity dog trainer who is actually self-taught. While it’s controversial, you can’t deny its effectivity especially towards overly aggressive dogs and sometimes, those who are deemed to be hopeless cases. You do sometimes need to be extra tough so you can tame alpha dogs and this technique definitely has its merits.
By the Use of Electronics
A pretty straightforward yet (can be) aggressive way to train your dogs is by the use of electronics. We’re primarily talking about electronic collars. These E-collars come in a lot of varieties and can train your dog using different modes.
Basically, the core concept of this methodology is to let your dog wear an electronic collar which will then either automatically activate or you can activate it through a remote control whenever they do something undesirable or a behavior that you are trying to correct.
Whether it’s excessive barking, stubbornness, wandering off, or not listening to any of your commands indoors or outdoors, an E-collar can be very effective. It also comes with a few different modes. Spray, tone/beep, vibrate, or static shock stimulation. The latter actually raises a few eyebrows too and discussions whether shock collars are humane or not have been thrown around and whether it could risk harming your dog either physically or emotionally.
But E-collar enthusiasts have time and again defended the concept as something that couldn’t hurt dogs in any way possible as long as the collars are used responsibly and appropriately. Most people agree with the rationale given the popularity and widespread use of said collars.
You may say that this is something that’s completely opposite of the positive reinforcement methodology.
Science-Based Training Methodology
What is science-based training and why is it also so popular? Aren’t all of these methodologies science-based? You have every reason to be confused about this one so we’re going to try and explain it as clearly as possible.
It’s safe to say that indeed this type of training covers every technique available and uses them when necessary. It’s methodical and ever-changing. Its primary aim to study a dog’s nature and learn how to deal with certain behaviors that needed to be controlled or corrected.
It’s basically dog psychology and relies on what we call operant conditioning. In positive reinforcement training, you mostly rely on the instincts of your dog and hope that you may use it to your advantage. With a scientific approach, you bank on all angles.
Positive and negative punishments are all implemented should the dog be under training. In a nutshell, whatever is required is done with this method and there are no hard and fast rules. Whether you need to discipline the dog verbally or physically.
Mirror or Rival Dog Training
As the name implies, mirror or rival dog training methodology banks on the concept that dogs learn by observation. That’s what dogs are, utterly observant beings that are again sometimes too smart for their own good. So, we use that to our advantage.
Through this method, they will learn by mimicking and how you teach them depends on the level of the stubbornness of the dog or depends on your program. Basically, a person or you as the owner can act as its mirror or rival, then you get yourself rewarded or punished depending on the behavior that you are reenacting.
This can be fun and may look more like play but can also be serious and may sometimes drain your patience away. It’s grueling that’s why professional dog trainers are the ones who often implement it for they have the technical knowledge and the patience to actually do so.
This is more like a social methodology than compared to instinctual ones that we’ve discussed. It will also have an indirect effect on your dog making you it’s model as it learns good behaviors and eliminates bad ones.
In turn, you and your pup will have a stronger bond in the process and hopefully after their bad behaviors are corrected.
No matter which training methodology you decide to utilize at its core should be our love and compassion towards our pets. Dogs are indeed man’s best friend and if we call them our pet then we should do everything that we can to help them out whenever necessary.
To some pet dogs or cats are more than just pets but family. If we apply training with care then 9 times out of 10 it should be effective. Get the help of experts if unsure or if it’s getting too much as oftentimes it can get overwhelming.
Be patient and be kind towards any animals in general. Good luck with your training and ENJOY!