Dog Training: How it is similar to politics.

Google "Dog training methods" 

If you did put that in the google, you were swarmed with articles on "choosing the right way to train your dog" or "positive reinforcement VS. Alpha Training" etc. 

To say that there is a divide in the dog training community is quite an understatement. I think the best way to think about it would be to compare it to politics, as silly as that may sound. You have your far left (Positive Only) and your far right (Aversive Only) and then you have the people in the middle like us at One Dog. Let's call them "Balanced Trainers" for the sake of this article. 

Both the far left and the far right are wrong. 

Let me explain.

Let me start with the far right, the aversive only trainers. 

I started my dog training career working under one of these types of trainer, and let me say, I learned so much. So much of what to do, but more of what not to do. *At the time I knew nothing and was a sponge soaking anything informational I could up.*

His argument was always "Well dog's wont listen if you use toys or treats because you won't always have them. They have to be scared of what happens if they don't listen." This is a bit right... and way wrong. 

Keep reading, and I will explain what I mean.

Now what the "far left" thinks.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, we have our positive only trainers. I am sure you are thinking, "What could be wrong with positive only?" right?

Well let me dive in and explain the truth behind the madness. Positive Only trainers are similar to our far right "aversive only" trainers in one way. They refuse to try or believe anything other than what they believe. 

Positive only trainers use only treats, toys, and praise (physical and verbal) to get the behaviors they want. Positive only trainers think that anything other than the use of positive reinforcement is emotionally damaging and scarring the dog. 

"If you use any type of tool, then you are cruel, abuse dogs physically and emotionally and it doesn't work." - Every Positive Only Trainer Ever

The "Balanced Trainer" approach. For the win!

I like my dogs to understand that compliance is not an option. However, I teach this through use of all the quadrants of operant conditioning. 

I show the dog through hundreds of repetitions that doing what I ask will be heavily reinforced. Once I know that my dog understands, I will slowly introduce a training collar to start to proof the behavior.

After the behavior is consistent and reliable, I will start to introduce distractions and show the dog even through there is a distraction present listening is a must.

If you are anything like me...

you just want a dog that will listen. That really isn't too much to ask for is it? I am sure that you can see the rationale in using all four quadrants of operant conditioning to get the desired result?

Skinner gave us the four quadrants of operant conditioning and showed us how animals learn. Why not use a combination of all the quadrants of operant conditioning to teach your dog to listen in a quicker fashion and more reliably?

Happy Dog = Happy Life

The take away...

After reading this, I hope that you can use these examples of the far left, the balanced trainer, and the far right to better understand each trainers views. 

  • Keep an open mind
  • Neither the far left is right
  • The far right isn't right either
  • Training tools aren't bad
  • Training tools used responsibly are awesome!

Your dog.

If you think having a dog that listens and likes to listen to you sounds like something you are interested in, then what are you waiting for!

Using a proven very balanced and natural training approach, we will train your dog faster, more reliably and increase the relationship between the two of you. 


Thanks for reading!

Corey McDaniel, MDT