While many training approaches rely on patience and consistency, not all methods will work out for the pup and owner. The scientific dog training method depends on techniques that have been proven to work time and again.
The science-based method advocates a gentle approach. This approach is more effective than other popular dog training methods that employ the dominance theory and positive reinforcement.
How Do Animal Trainers Use Science?
Evidence-based training techniques help mold your dog without harming them. One of the key tenets of scientifically-backed training methods is to “First, Do No Harm.”
What this saying means is that trainers must exhaust their resources in providing positive reinforcement before deciding to take a different route.
It’s a well-known fact that dogs are often food-motivated. That’s why offering them their favorite treat while training is a great way to teach them certain tricks.
However, if a dog is unresponsive to positive reinforcement methods, only then, may trainers consider negative reinforcement techniques.
Usually, these are reserved for more urgent situations such as training dogs not to bite people haphazardly.
This ethical way of training dogs supports positive behavioral changes. Furthermore, science also proves that positive reinforcement and ethical training methods reduce the likelihood of dogs developing an aggressive demeanor.
Studies show that dogs subjected to violence, as well as physical or emotional trauma, are more likely to lash out unexpectedly.
However, it’s also important to understand that scientific training methods aren’t exactly like positive reinforcement techniques. In positive reinforcement situations, dogs are not ignored when they do not accomplish a task or trick.
Also Read: Top Dog Training Tips
Popular Dog Training Methods
Before anything else, let’s set the record straight—all training methods, at one point, was backed by science. However, not all of them work efficiently—or are proven to have positive effects on your dog or the dog-owner relationship.
Let’s take a look at the science behind some of the most popular working dog training techniques used in the industry today.
The Dominance Theory
Although extremely popular around 15 to 20 years ago, more and more dog trainers are beginning to see why the dominance theory isn’t the best option. Much like negative reinforcement, it cultivates a feeling of fear in your pup.
The trainer uses fear of punishment to assert their dominance. This way, the pup is essentially pressured into following orders. While somewhat effective, there’s a reason why this method is widely controversial.
This technique assumes that the issues with dogs stem from the fact that they act like wolves, and that their disagreeable behavior is a way to assert their dominance.
The controversy stems from the idea that the dog is trying to take over the owner’s personal space.
The truth couldn’t be further from that especially since dogs have no clear understanding of what you’re trying to achieve. As such, it’s much more important to make them feel welcome and safe in your home.
For example, if your pup doesn’t like to get groomed, training them to stay and be calm during the session should eventually make them feel accustomed to the sensation and learn to enjoy it.
Some other methods used in dominance training include:
- Leash snapping
- Choke chains
- Prong collars
Also Read: Leash Training for an Older Dog
A step up from dominance training, positive reinforcement focuses on rewarding dogs for positive behavior.
Positive reinforcement training is a great way to improve the behaviors of any dog without causing them to become aggressive or fearful.
In fact, a study has linked positive training methods with better-behaved dogs compared to ones trained using aggression. What’s even more interesting is that following this method also helps cultivate a healthy relationship with your pup.
However, the catch is that positive reinforcement requires patience and consistency to take effect. One of the main reasons why many self-taught pet trainers may prefer the dominance method is that it shows results more quickly.
Before anything else, there are three things to remember when it comes to positive reinforcement training:
Rewards need to be doled out immediately after your dog accomplishes a task to ensure that they understand what they’re being rewarded for.
If it’s given too late, they may end up confused and not repeat the right action on cue.
While you shouldn’t punish your dogs, you shouldn’t reward bad behavior either. This includes pats on the head, belly rubs, hugs, or kisses when they don’t follow through with a command.
Furthermore, you should also stick to one command and not variations of it to make sure your four-legged companion catches on quickly.
Positive reinforcement takes longer to yield results compared to negative training methods.
But the good thing about it is that it has long-term benefits that others do not.
Chicken Treats that Capture Your Pet’s Attention, and Keep It
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As I mentioned before, scientific dog training methods are similar to positive reinforcement because they don’t use aggression, fear, punishment, and techniques that could be harmful to your dogs.
Unlike the two previously mentioned methods, this approach relies on heavily researched cognitive and behavioral sciences observed by veterinarians and animal behaviorists.
It focuses on the fact that dogs are sentient beings with the ability to feel emotions such as fear, happiness, love, and excitement.
Scientific training involves the trainer connecting with the dog and communicating with them in such a way that they are able to understand. Instead of ignoring bad behavior, this method takes away rewards so the dog understands what needs to happen more quickly.
To help give you a better understanding of what we mean, let’s take a look at the scenario below.
Let’s say that you want to teach your dog not to pull on their leash when going out for a walk. In this case, the reward is getting to where they want to go. Each training method applies different tactics to teach your dog to outgrow the behavior.
For example, if you’re using dominance-led training, you’d use a choke or prong collar if your dog pulls on his leash. These techniques leverage pain so that your dog avoids repeating the action.
Ultimately, the scientific dog training method shows the most promise. Not only does it help you relay your concerns with your dog much more efficiently, but it also enables you to create a connection with your dog. This will help them adapt to future learning opportunities more efficiently.
Remember, consistency, patience, and timing are key to achieving results much more quickly. Your pup may not learn overnight, but they’ll live a long, happy, and well-adjusted life in the future.