Dog Training – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

St. Bernard Puppy

There seems to be a never ending debate regarding dog training methods – what works, what is safe, what is ethical?  While the debate rages on, more and more people are learning about options in dog training and choosing positive training methods over corrections and punishment based methods.  Why?  Research has shown that there are consequences of training our pets using punishment, including physical punishment (inflicting pain) and mental punishment (inflicting fear).  And more importantly, research shows that training our pets using positive (reward based) methods works just as well, if not better, and without the negative consequences that exist with physical corrections (leash yanking), aversive collars (prong, choke) and electric shock (e-collars).  As behaviorists, we see a fair amount of dogs struggling with fear, anxiety and aggression.  These dogs are particularly at risk when put in the wrong training programs.  While the use of positive training and reward based methods is beneficial to all dogs, it is particularly important for dogs with issues.   It is often life-changing for these dogs to get the right training to enhance their well-being and give them the best chance of making lasting behavior changes.

For a good starting point, check out some of the research on the benefits of positive, reward-based dog training here.