The methods you choose for training your dog matter.
Dog training in general has boiled down into two camps, with the all-positive-all-the-time (think: treats and clickers) at one extreme and on the other side, alpha-dog methods that encourage “dominance or submission”, or worse, techniques that depend on pain, scaring or startling a dog.
Since a dog is a sentient creature (a thinking, feeling, sensing animal), with a mind of its own, in most cases, neither extreme training approach works.
The problem with positive reinforcement
Positive reinforcement training is often done incorrectly, with many well-intentioned dog trainers using treats as a bribe, rather than a reward for good behaviors. This limits the effectiveness of treat-training and misses the point of positive reinforcement.
The biggest problem with the all-positive approach is that it leaves dog owners with no serious method for stopping unwanted behaviors, other than ignoring or avoiding situations where unwanted behaviors occur. At best, the positive-only approach could be called the “ask, avoid, and distract” method, which ultimately will not solve problem behaviors.
The problem with punishment-based training
Even though shock collars, prongs, and choke chains can work, they have so many negative side effects that in the rare cases when needed, they should be used by experts only.
Bottom line: the use of these kinds of “positive-punishment” techniques are not recommended by good dog trainers or even supported for most cases by the American Society of Veterinarians.
At Zen Dog Training we never recommend any method that scares, startles, causes pain or discomfort, or otherwise triggers the limbic system (the “fight/flight” response) to train a dog.
Why Zen Dog Training
Our methods work because they are balanced. We believe people should have options both for teaching good behaviors and for stopping bad behaviors in the best way possible.
The Zen Dog Training approach speeds up the learning process to stop bad behaviors from becoming bad habits, as dog owners learn to reward good behaviors AND gently interrupt unwanted behaviors! In fact, we recommend beginning training right away, especially with puppies and newly adopted dogs.
The methods we use are proven to work with every dog, regardless of breed and temperament, because our approach is customized to each dog, situation, and family. Even the learning style of each client is taken into account when developing a training solution.
Communicate with your dog in a language they understand.
Zen Dog Training Solutions are 5 Universal Principles (or 5 Training Options) of dog training that can be customized to solve any problem behavior and train any dog:
- Yes Games – Positive Reinforcement
- No – How to Interrupt Unwanted Behaviors
- Shunishment – Negative Reinforcement (Ignore Strategies)
- The Secret – Managing situations to control the outcome
- Coping Strategies / Ultimatums / Consequences
Each training option is a different method to help people encourage obedience with a combination of positive AND negative reinforcement, gentle interruption techniques, and appropriate consequences for solving stubborn or difficult behaviors.
Consistent signaling and follow through
Once people understand the various training options they have available to them, any behavior can be taught or modified by simultaneously encouraging good behaviors, and also, knowing how to interrupt, actively ignore, refocus, or otherwise reduce unwanted behaviors.
In order for training to work, consistency in words and actions, and following through with rules is a must. At Zen Dog Training we get your dog to know training techniques in different situations, with different people, until it becomes second nature.
Beyond Positive Reinforcement
Ultimately, dog training means getting your dog to understand what you want and then motivating your dog to listen to you. A trained dog has been conditioned through repetition in different environments until they are rock-solid with following the rules regardless of the distractions or difficulties.
Great dog trainers know that dogs need to go beyond just acquiring knowledge; they need to be motivated to listen (ideally, through positive reinforcement) and must understand there are negative consequences for unwanted behaviors, applied without causing fear or discomfort.
Use our methods to turn your dog into a Zen Dog!