Dog Obedience Training: Negative, Positive or Clicker?

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No one argues that dog obedience training isn’t necessary. Of course it is. Dogs don’t just intuitively know what it is you want them to do. While breeders and professional dog trainers are obviously very aware of the different training approaches, they normally prefer one over another. Some dog owners go to dog obedience class and completely rely on what they learn there, but more and more, dog owners are educating themselves and taking on dog training at home beyond just the homework they get from puppy school.

Correction Based Training
Up until a number of years ago, the most popular method of dog training was based on correcting unwanted behavior. The theory behind this is that the dog learns to associate a negative reaction for a certain behavior so avoids doing it.  Prong collars are based on this approach. When the dog pulls on the leash, the prongs dig into his neck, thus causing pain or at least an uncomfortable feeling. Many trainers still use correction based training and it can work provided the correction doesn’t into a punishment. often use these techniques very effectively. Dog owners don’t.

Dog Training
In recent years, positive reinforcement dog training has become the biggest buzz word in the dog training world. This approach relies on the dog associating certain behaviours with something positive. When the dog delivers a wanted response, she is rewarded. She doesn’t get punished when she does something wrong – she gets rewarded when she does something right.

Some trainers claim that positive reinforcement by itself is never enough for some dogs and certainly not as efficient as a combination positive reinforcement and correction based . Others preach that positive reinforcement by itself works as long as you teach your dog you are the alpha leader in her pack so her instincts tell her she has to do what you tell her – the only thing you have to do is teach her what you want her to do.

Clicker Training
And then there’s another group that swears by clicker training. This is positive based, but relies entirely on the theory that your dog will act based on getting what she wants more than any desire to please you. It assumes that your dog will give a certain behaviour not because she strives to please you, but because she knows it means something will come. With clicker training, the dog offers the desired behavior voluntarily and by using the clicker to mark the exact behavior, timing is very accurate in tems of associating reward with with action. Clicker training takes a bit longer when starting out, but more and more trainers and every day dog owners swear by it.

More and more, people are dog training at home and using online dog training products to educate themselves. There are numerous approaches to dog obedience training but it makes sense to be aware of all of them when choosing what’s right for you and your dog.


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