Balanced Training VS Positive Only Training
Understanding Balanced Training VS Positive Only
The battle that goes on all the time in this industry. You have a failing “purely positive” part of this industry that is losing business. Positive only does not equate to more humane. In reality, it can be more harmful in the long run especially for the relationship between dog and owner. The goal of any training should be to increase communication lines. This is why it is important to understand the difference between balanced training and positive only training.
Why Doesn’t Positive Only Training Work?
Because so many results are short-lived because this approach to training is so reliant on food.
I cannot tell you how many of our clients had already put their dog through a purely positive program and then came to us. When we ask what happened, it’s almost all the same…we hit a plateau!
We could not go anywhere without food and a clicker and if we went on a walk and forgot those things – forget it!
The most pronounced thing that I have noticed with this method and why we get so many clients who have been through it – is that they reward the good and ignore bad behavior. And in some cases (unbeknownst to the owner) they are rewarding bad behavior. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not against positive training…however, I am against only using positive training because, that is not how dogs operate in a pack.
The purely positive crowd will tell you that when a dog is with people, it’s no longer a pack thing. I ask, how can they take that out of the dog’s DNA?? They are born with it and dogs operate more efficiently in a pack rather than by themselves. Why? Because in a pack there is balance, rules and boundaries and, the majority of dogs are followers, not leaders. That’s why in every pack, you only have ONE alpha! Balanced training, in which positive and negative reinforcement are used is closest to how dogs operate in a pack!
How It Works in a Pack
In a pack, good behavior is left ignored, or there is some play or, the members just peacefully lay around coexisting and enjoying each other’s company. Negative behavior is corrected by one or more in the pack. Now, when I say correction – people may say that’s where the pain comes in.
Wrong, correction does not mean it’s always aversive! “No!” is a simple correction! Again, people may say telling a dog “no” will hurt its feelings. Physical correction when done CORRECTLY does not cause pain. It’s just enough information to interrupt the negative thought pattern of a dog and redirect his attention back to you.
Tools and How They Work
Many dogs come to us displaying some sort of behavioral issues be it aggression, anxiety etc. Owners long to be able to communicate with their dog. That is what we do – establish a clear line of communication with the dog so there is no mistaking what we are telling the dog to do. We do this with the tools we use namely, the e-Collar and the prong training collar. The purely positive crowd will criticize these tools all day long when they have never even used them. Or, if they have used them, they were used improperly. Both the prong and the e-Collar are used the exact same way. Pressure on, pressure off. That’s pressure not pain…the same concept that is used when riding a horse.
Simply put, pressure is applied when giving a verbal cue and it is released when the dog commits or completes. The e-Collar is introduced after the dog understands the pressure from the prong. The reason why it the prong collar is designed or engineered the way it is for you to apply pressure and as it closes, it applies focused pressure evenly 360 degrees around the neck. The pressure the e-Collar delivers is low level muscle stimulation simulating pressure. Our goal is to find the dog’s lowest working level. The e-Collar and the prong collar are used the exact same way. The level most dogs feel is a level that most humans can’t even feel. Once a dog is off leash reliable on the e-Collar, the freedom it experiences is like never before. Yet, you have the control over the dog if need be. Before, because of so many types of behavioral problems the owner was experiencing with the dog meant the dog always had to be leashed or confined.
Change Doesn’t Have to Be Hard
So many times, you can see an amazing change the very first day a dog is here when the rules, boundaries and leadership are clearly established, and the light bulb goes on! JUST LIKE IN A PACK. So much of what I have seen from the critics who are purely positive and how they say we should do our jobs – is trying to make a dog what it it isn’t – many times, a human. The majority of what human’s project onto a dog are things that humans need…we need to feel all warm and fuzzy.
We need to constantly talk to something. This is a dog’s worst enemy – when a person tries to humanize them. I am not saying don’t give affection to your dog. What I am saying is have them earn it through the jobs you give them to do!
So, next time someone sees you walking your dog on a prong or off leash on an e-Collar and they say something (while their dog is lunging and pulling), smile and ignore them. Then look at your awesome off leash awesomeness on four legs and realize you have changed you and your dogs lives forever!