Posted by on April 17, 2014

There are many variables that go into picking the right training style for your dog; the correct harness, leash, crate, treats, food choice, etc. The main objective when picking a style is to pick a method that’s positive. Some positive styles of training include “reward based training.” When your dog does something that is positive or correct, you reward them with something positive, such as a small piece of a treat and positive words, such as “good boy.” This is the “positive reinforcement” part of “reward based training.”

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We love to work for treats!

If you’re playing fetch or with toys and your dog jumps up on you, do not throw the ball and stop playing. This will show them that if they jump on you and become inpatient, you will not throw the ball anymore, associating jumping before throwing the ball in a negative context. The reward for stopping the jumping can be the restart of play.

“Clicker training” is also a positive training method that many dog trainers use. A “clicker” is a small mechanical device that makes a distinct, but short, click sound to tell the animal when they are doing something exactly right. Dogs do not automatically recognize the click as the marker of good behavior, but it is an easy process to make this connection.

Clicker

Clicker

One method associated with the clicker is called “catching.” This means you catch your furry friend in the act of doing something positive that you want it to do on its own, like sitting, rolling over, or laying down. As soon as they are in the act of doing something positive, you quickly “click” your clicker then reward with a treat. This is a repetitive process and does involve a lot of waiting, but does work.

The next method of clicker training is “shaping,” where smaller steps leading up to the task are rewarded and “clicked.” For example, if your dog starts to sit but doesn’t quite get there, you reward for it trying to sit its behind on the ground and click so it knows it was a positive move. They will eventually get the positive reinforcement associated with lower its behind down and with time, they will sit.

“Luring” with a treat acts as a positive reinforcement magnet; as you take the treat lead it in a way that you want your dog to follow, they will begin to understand and follow the treat. Once it is repeated a few times they will associate the treats movement and get it on their own. There are cues and terms added later to this training method but these are the most effective ways of “clicker training.”

Clicker training for a down command.

Clicker training for a down command.

As you can see, there are various types of positive training. Prong and shock collars are far from positive and something that you should steer far from when picking a training style for your dog. Not only are they reinforcing negative behavior, they are unfair and abusive. Other negative training styles include cans with coins in them, squirt bottles filled with water, yelling, shoving, and even hitting. None of these methods work and can be extremely traumatizing for your k9 companion. Negative methods such as the ones just mentioned are not recommended. Cold Nose Lodge offers many positive training classes with our certified dog trainers that we have on staff. Feel free to stop by and get a free half hour training consultation with them!