A balanced dog trainer believes in training behaviors motivationally, using a reward-based training system. Examples of behaviors include COME - SIT - DOWN - STAY etc. In the beginning of our work, we use high value food rewards to teach the meaning of these behaviors. In our foundation training, we don't correct a dog for refusing to perform a behavior; we simply withhold the high value reward.
A balanced dog trainer will also use corrections in training, but only after the foundation of a behavior has been established through reward-based training, when the trainer is absolutely 100% certain the dog has generalized the behavior, and knows exactly what it means but refuses to follow the command.
It is my belief that to maintain off-leash reliability, a dog must go through a correction phase of training. It is in this phase where the dog is exposed to more and more distractions. We use rewards to reinforce correct decisions the dog makes when we Recall him back to us, but we will also correct the dog if it ignores our Recall command because it is more interested in the distraction than it is in coming back to us for our high value reward.
There are also certain scenarios where dogs need to learn a behavior through corrections that will save their lives: recalls, rattle snake avoidance, or a puppy spitting something out of its mouth when asked, to name a few.
Unfortunately, over the past 25 years a culture has developed that call themselves "PURELY POSITIVE TRAINERS." These are people who claim they can train dogs and never give their dog a correction. These people are living a pipe dream. They lack experience in training dogs with genetic drive or dogs with behavioral issues. They are also people who never expose their dogs to serious distractions.
Thank you for taking a stand for common sense. This is useful for beginners and young people.
Written on February 22, 2017