Topic: Training Methods
The leading misconception that I run into during my training classes is that owners think training a dog really shouldn’t start till around 6 months of age. Traditional trainers who often use choke collars and harsh corrections in their classes established this rule of thumb.
Those harsh methods would cause a young puppy some serious damage. At six months puppies’ necks are considered to be strong enough to handle the leash jerks and repeated corrections.Thank goodness most of us smart trainers have moved onto a modern way of training using positive reinforcement.
We simply add good things into a puppy’s environment for good behaviors and voila, the rewarded behavior gets stronger and repeats itself! There’s no need for harsh corrections or a choke collar in order to get a dog to walk nicely on a leash, all that’s needed is a form of payment to make walking next to you rewarding. Hot dogs, cheese, liver treats or boiled chicken breast all make great payments for most dogs. When a dog gets yummy food for walking nicely by your side and doesn’t get much of anything when he pulls, he’ll realize walking by your side benefits him much more.
Now I know what you’re thinking, that your dog will become a treat-crazed pooch that only responds to cues when you have food in hand. Not if you put your dog on a variable reinforcement schedule, by varying the times you reward. Your dog never knows when he’s going to get the treat on a variable schedule, so he continues to give you 100% because he definitely doesn’t want to miss out on the opportunity for some hot dog.
With this positive way of training I can accept puppies as young as 8 weeks old into my training classes and teach owners how to reward and then phase off food properly. Young puppies can learn sit, down, stay, heel, come and much more with the use of positive training, without the abuse of choke chains and harsh corrections. Fostering training during a puppy’s socialization period (8-12 weeks old) sets a good foundation for your relationship with your dog right off the bat. Don’t be misled by the thought that your puppy is too young to begin learning behaviors. The socialization period is actually the best time for your puppy to be learning and bonding with you. Positive training allows you to build on your relationship with your dog and you can begin the day you bring him home. You could have a puppy who knows sit, down, stay, go to your place and come by the time he’s 6 months old with the use of positive training. Not to mention, you’ll have a happy, well-rounded pup that offers behaviors with joy, as opposed to, offering behaviors reluctantly to avoid punishment.
Forget about being your dogs’ boss and being the Alpha. Think about how you can positively reward behaviors you’d like to see repeated and then make it happen. All will fall into place once your dog realizes he gets your attention when he offers good behaviors. So go ahead and toss the choke chains and the prong collars in the trash and move onto becoming a kind and benevolent leader. Focus on rewarding the good and you’ll see a dog begging for his next training session with you. Train the positive way; your dog will thank you for it.
Tara’s Dog Training
100% Positive Dog Training
Privates and Classes ~ All Breeds ~ All Ages
Contact Tara @ TarasDogTraining@Gmail.com
Start your Puppy Kindergarten Class this Sunday!