Dog Training Tips

I’m sure you’ve gone to the moon and back trying to train your dog to listen to you, am I right?

This page is the ultimate resource on ways to get your dog to obey you and be a better companion.

Quick Guides on How to Train Your Dog

The first one is probably the most useful article, because really, who enjoys a barking dog?

The ultimate guide on getting your dog to shut up!

Probably the best thing you will ever teach your dog.

Another very easy method that will reap rewards for many years.

Dog Training 101

You can never do too much research when it comes to training your dog. There are a lot of different methods you can use and this article will give you a comprehensive list.

For example, there’s reward-based teaching, psychological instruction, operant conditioning, group learning, positive reinforcement, dominance theory, the Koehler technique, and then some celebrity patented approaches. So you see, the list may be a very long one.

However, while there are many different types of dog training, they are all composed of only a few simple principles and it is the execution of these principles that makes all the difference.

Ultimately, the approach or mixture of approaches you chose to use to condition your own pet depends on what suits your personality profile best and performs well for you and your dog.

Let’s talk about several different methods here. Then you can pick and choose what suits your best.

Classical Conditioning

To start with, you’ve probably heard of Pavlov’s famous experiment. Pavlov’s dog is the most prominent example of a classical conditioning technique that you can harness.

Ivan Pavlov performed tests where each time a bell would be rung before meat paste was poured into a dog’s mouth. As a result of this, the dog would salivate. Eventually, he removed the food supply and only rang the bell. The dog’s mouth would still salivate.

This is because the animal grew to associate the bell with the promise of food. He was conditioned to do so, using clever stimulus placement.

Notice this with your own furry friend. If your dog hears the rattle of his food bowl, he starts to salivate, and when he sees you pulling up his dog leash, he is suddenly frenzied to walk out. Such patterns are not inherently present because they were taught by classical conditioning.

The idea that these associations can be made and actions can be easily activated can be used to the benefit of trainers. However, it isn’t the most effective training technique as compared to a lot of other approaches.

Operant Conditioning

Operating conditioning’ is a dog training strategy focused on manipulating the environment so that an action ends with either good or bad consequences.

When your dog does a certain action, and something positive happens, the frequency of that activity is expected to improve. However, if your pet does something that results in a negative outcome for him, the negative behavior will automatically decrease over time.

You can decrease these behaviors by ‘punishing’ negative habits, and you can improve them by ‘reinforcing’ positive behaviours.

The operant conditioning method has 4 components (or quadrants). It’s good to learn, when mentioning them, that a ‘punishment’ stops negative behavior and a ‘reinforcement’ encourages positive behavior.

Here are the four quadrants:

  • Positive Reinforcement: Enhances actions by adding something that the dog views as friendly. Example: Offering high praise or gourmet treat when your dog sits on call
  • Positive Punishment: Discourages actions by adding something that the dog finds undesirable. Example: The dog is getting up and walking around, and you don’t pay attention to him
  • Negative Reinforcement: Increases certain actions by taking away negative stimulus. Example: pick up the dog’s collar until he lies down. Then, remove the leash when he sits. Once this undesirable stimulus is removed, the dog will want to sit on command.
  • Negative Punishment: Discourages actions by taking away something attractive. Example: You want to play fetch but your dog is jumping up constantly and attempting to grab the object. You can keep the object and he will realize he won’t get it until he rests and relaxes. He will learn you will only play fetch when he is calm and patiently waiting, thereby reducing jumping and snatching.

“Traditional” Training

The word “traditional teaching” is used to describe approaches that pre-date the new ‘science-based’ techniques that (almost) everyone is using even after the general understanding of how dogs think and learn has significantly improved.

Traditional obedience training involves aversives, discipline and physical coercion (forcing) a canine into desirable habits. Most of the hypothesis for this method is taken from the principle of supremacy and wolf group theory, all of which have been proved to be inaccurate by modern research.

Traditional teaching encourages a dog to make mistakes and then discipline can be offered in the future to discourage negative behavior.

The idea is that dogs behave poorly as they want to take a superior rank role, and the trainer spends time pretending to the dog that the trainer is the more superior ‘boss’ and must be obeyed.

Standard coaches use punishments such as a hard snap on the handle, pinches, pulls, and ‘dog rolls’ where a negative action is observed, but most do pair this with reinforcement (and sometimes even rewards) to encourage the action where delivered appropriately.

Science Based Training

In science-based teaching, there is a profound knowledge of dogs, their behavior, actions, operant conditioning, classical conditioning, punishors, reinforcers, and many more such topics.

Science-based dog training is continuously being developed by animal behaviorists and experts using the findings of studies to learn to better understand the dogs.And it is here that science-based research is so different from the conventional forms of teaching.

A science-based teacher can have an understanding of conventional approaches, the philosophy of supremacy and the principle of wolf pack. They will also know which methods have been proved ineffective and won’t push them.

Science-based coaches aim to teach dogs in the most humane manner possible, taking into account the social needs of the dogs and the normal learning techniques. They’re trying to communicate with the puppy, and not just trying to control them with a firm grip.

Most science-based research focuses on operant conditioning but it takes into consideration several other aspects. For example, everything preceding and leading up to it is first observed and learned when trying to alter a behavior.

Not only is the field very vast, there are always new techniques and research being added!

Positive Reinforcement Training

While positive reinforcement is part of operant conditioning, when used to characterize a particular teaching process, it refers to a practitioner that uses only positive reinforcement, making it the absolute cornerstone form in their strategy. Effective habits are praised, but weak or undesirable behaviors often go unnoticed. The dog is only rewarded for good behavior.

However, this method of training isn’t categorically the best because it will encourage negative habits to get worse as you’re encouraging a dog to find his own reward by simply avoiding an action and therefore reinforcing the behaviour.

For example: If your dog catches a squirrel and you just ignore it, without reminding him this action is incorrect, he will be praised because it’s fun to catch squirrels.

Negative Reinforcement Training

Here, the word ‘negative’ does not mean evil and it definitely does not mean that you’re going to be cruel to your dog. Recall that ‘negative’ means throwing away something, and ‘reinforcement’ means trying to improve behaviour.

Therefore negative reinforcement takes away positive stimulus to improve a behaviour.

The Clicker Training Method

Clicker training is a highly successful and common form of marker training, where the marker is used as a clicker. This type of training requires a small clicking device to produce a sound you’ll use to ‘mark’ the point at which your dog performs a positive action. It’s better to mark where a desired behavior finishes with a button than with the speech. In this way, communication is much easier between you and your dog and leads to more successful training.

How does it work, then? So, there’s a little classic training where you label with a button on a positive action and then motivate the dog with a reward.

Your dog will quickly equate the click with a reward after several repetitions, and the click itself will eventually become rewarding enough for the treats to be phased out.

The Bottomline

All of the techniques listed here are subjective to what works for you and your furry friend. You don’t have to be a proponent of one or the other. Rather, it’s about trying them out and seeing what works.

Remember, no one endorses you being cruel or harsh to your pet. Always use these techniques with a lot of love, compassion, patience and endurance. Your dog will only love you more for it.

Tim Schmidt

About 

Tim is a Florida based Entrepreneur and Author. When he's not busy chasing around his 14 year old, he's caring for Snoop and Cookie. This blog is his outlet to help dumb down the often demanding journey of caring for dogs and help others.