Positive Reward Based Training Methods Work
We at Pit Bull Synergy believe in positive, humane training methods, based on of an understanding of how dogs learn. A reward-based training program teaches dog owners positive methods for training their dogs. The use of these training practices reduces the number of animals surrendered to shelters and rescues because of behavioral problems. As a result, the bond between the owner and their pet is strengthened. Dog training should involve the entire family, including adults and children.
NOT ALL DOG TRAINERS ARE CREATED EQUAL
The dog training industry is unregulated. That’s right, you read it correctly! With little to no formal education, nearly anyone can claim to be a dog trainer. There is no doubt that this will have long-term, and most often negative, effects on you and your dog.
Guarantees are popular with most people. Dog trainers often offer a guarantee on results. When it comes to dog training, there is simply no guarantee. How should you choose a dog trainer, and what should you look for? Review the trainer’s credentials first. Most trainers have “lots of letters” after their name; quite often, that means they passed an independent testing test. Although many people are able to pass a test, this alone does not make them qualified to be a dog trainer or to work with dogs. Particularly if the dog has training needs that go beyond basic foundation skills like sit, down, stay and come.
Start by looking for a trainer that uses positive, reward-based methods. That uses scientifically proven training approaches. In accordance with the ethical guidelines and humane practices defined by:
You can search out trainers in your local area through The Association of Professional Dog Trainers | APDT
The options above should help you narrow down your options significantly. The next step is to interview your potential dog trainer. You can do this directly by asking them questions, and /or by doing research on them, or asking for recommendations from others.
Don’t fall for terms like “pack leader”, alpha or dominance. By the way your dog is not a wolf and neither are you. Therefore, becoming an “alpha” to your dog is not something you should pursue. Your dog will never plot to take over your life through any dominance.
These are all human attributes. These are words used to describe the behavior of people; dogs lack any moral imperative. These negative labels are unfair to dogs and imply anthropomorphism and antiquated thinking on the part of the trainer who uses them. Positive based trainers will not use these adjectives.
You should look for trainers who maintain there credentials through continuing education, which is often required you may find someone who isn’t being truthful about their actual certifications or lack there of. Check their credential in an unregulated field: there may be people who aren’t being honest about their credentials.
It’s important to understand many dog trainers are self taught. A dog trainer without credentials doesn’t mean they can’t help you. Interviewing a dog trainer can provide a better understanding of their methodology.
You should scan their website and/or social media pages, such as their Facebook page. Look through the pictures and videos that they post, and if you see leather and nylon collars, flat buckle or martingales collars or harnesses being used, chances are they are using reward-based training.
CLASSES WITH OTHER DOGS OR PRIVATE LESSONS?
It is not always the best option to enroll your dog in groups classes. If your dog is afraid of other dogs or if he has stranger danger the group setting may be too challenging and making it ineffective.
A group class will likely not result in a positive outcome for these dogs. As it leaves the dog guardians feeling frustrated and discouraged. Not to mention the additional stress the dog experiences.
As soon as you’ve decided whether group classes or a private 1:1 training are best for your dog you can begin asking questions. Such as “What will happen if my dog does something wrong?” The answer should be nothing!
If your dog doesn’t get it right, the lack of the click or the marker word will be enough for them to understand they didn’t get it right. They should simply be given the opportunity to try again.
BREED DISCRIMINATION IN DOG TRAINERS
Humane training is the right training for any dog regardless of it’s breed. Look for a trainer who will NOT employ aversive, punishment, or compulsion methods. These include the use of prong, choke, or shock collars (even if they are being used on a vibrating or toning), shaker cans, bean bags, spray bottles, ultrasonic noisemakers, and canned air. A qualified trainer will recognize how damaging this can be to their relationship of trust with their guardian.
None of these approaches teach a dog anything other than avoidance behavior and learned helplessness. These devices drive fear deeper, exacerbating bad behavior. Training dogs to do what you want them to DO instead of what you DON’T want them to do, is always a better response to an unwanted behavior.
Behaviorally, dogs do what works whatever gets reinforced gets repeated. Think positive! Dogs are sentient beings, and you are their advocate and guardian. You must protect your dog, and your trainer should do the same.