The Power of Positive (Science Based) Dog Training (Part 6)

Hello everyone! Last week we began discussing how rules and discipline work in the world of positive dog training. Remember, it is important to be consistent in your approach, as dogs thrive on consistent patterns of behavior, and structure.

If you did research on operant and classical conditioning – the learning theories used in positive training for dogs – you would discover that these theories began by studying how children learn. Dogs are very similar to young children in the way that they learn and these methods of learning translated very well into the canine world. This means that some of the same techniques we might use with our children, are just as effective with our fur babies. Techniques like withholding something special until a behavior is performed, like we discussed last week, or putting the dog in “time out” when she gets out of hand.

The “time out” is a discipline that is often confusing for dog owners. If done correctly, this is a great way to send your dog a very clear message. And it can be done without getting angry, or even saying a word. This technique should be used for extreme situations because, as with anything else, if overused, it will lose its effectiveness. A common question for “time outs” for dogs is, “will the dog begin disliking his crate, or the room that is used for the punishment?” The answer is, no. A dog will no more dislike his crate than a child will dislike her bedroom when she is given a time out to her room. What the dog dislikes is the separation from you, the source of all attention and affection. Be sure to limit the time out to two minutes, otherwise, the dog will forget why he was even separated from you to begin with.               

When faced with the constant barrage of new and changing information about how to train a dog, it may seem easy to go back to the old school methods of force and coercion. It is important to remember that you have the ability to give and take away everything that is important to your dog. This puts you in a position of power automatically. You can shape behavior by simple applications of giving and taking away what the dog deems important. You can use your position of power in a positive way; not a fearful coercive one. As Ghandi said, “Power is of two kinds. One is obtained by the fear of punishment and the other by acts of love. Power based on love is a thousand times more effective and permanent than the one derived from fear of punishment.”