I am proud to be a part of a community of dog trainers whose work is grounded in the science of modern dog training, and whose approach to both dogs and people is compassionate, loving, and humane.
Traditional methods focus on correction and what the does wrong, correcting orpunishing the unwanted behaviour. But modern methods focus on positive reinforcement and what the dog does right, rewarding and reinforcing the desirable behaviour. Communication, connection, cooperation, and trust are the hallmarks of the best dog training.
Pain, fear, and intimidation have no place in modern dog training. Research shows that the potential effects of punishment and aversive techniques such as prong, choke, or e-collars, can include aggression or counter-aggression, suppressed behaviour, increased anxiety and fear, a negative association with the owner or handler, increased unwanted behaviour, and new, unwanted behaviour. (IAABC)
On the other hand, the most likely side effect of positive reinforcement is a happy dog! Force-free techniques are not only more humane and enjoyable, they are proven to be more effective. When dogs are taught what to do and how to behave, and are rewarded for their efforts, their confidence builds and learning can take place. Dog trainers all over the world are taking positive reinforcement to new heights with approaches that engage and empower dogs and their people.
Positive reinforcement does not mean anything goes. We need to set rules and boundaries for our dogs to help them live happily and safely in our world. Management is an important tool and can often prevent unwanted behaviours from occurring in the first place. And, it's not enough to ignore unwanted behaviour. We have to show the dog what they can do insteadand make that alternative behaviour highly rewarding so that the dog is motivated to do it.
For dogs that are fearful and display aggression to other dogs and/or people, it is important to change the underlying emotions that are at the root of the problem behaviour. There are systematic, proven techniques, such as desensitization and counter-conditioning and Behavior Adjustment Training, that keep the dog feeling safe while changing his or her response to "the scary thing."