Dog training requires clear communication in a consistent manner to convey an idea or requirement to a dog so that they may understand our intent. Inconsistency and miscommunication are the largest obstacles to this objective.
Dogs learn in the same manner that most organisms do, through the presence of pressure and release of this pressure. That is to say that dogs feel various types of pressures. They will need to eat, drink, exercise, play, sleep, be warm, be cool, have space etc. Naturally a dog will release these pressures by reacting to them as they feel necessary. By understanding these basic principles we can use this process to communicate with a dog.
The obvious example would be to offer a dog a treat but first to require them to sit before it is given to them. Here the “pressure” is the desire to eat and it is “released” by us giving them a treat. Requiring the dog to sit before it is given, then allowing the dog to take the treat reinforces the behaviour of a dog sitting to receive a treat. For the dog the message is clear and easily demonstrable.
At the same time a dog may offer an unacceptable behaviour to us in order to relieve a pressure they are feeling. For example a dog may feel the need to guard a resource, food for example. This is something that may be at odds with our requirements and therefore needs addressing.
In this case we need to give the dog clear communication that guarding the resource is counter productive to releasing the pressure they are feeling. This can be achieved by providing the food in a different environment and in a different way, for example spreading the food over an area so the dog has to forage for it rather than guarding it in one place. Gradually the food can be presented in a bowl once again, after the dog has come to realise it does not need to be protected.
I believe in a fair, consistent training approach, this includes lots of positive reinforcement to encourage a new desired behaviour but also to address the unacceptable behaviours by discouraging them, after all, every living thing learns from their experiences through consequence.
I use a system of “marker training” to connect a behaviour to an outcome for the dog. This can be used for both classical conditioning and operant conditioning depending on which works best for your dog. Some dogs are “active” thinking dogs and want to problem solve so operant conditioning is used, whereas some are “reactive” thinking dogs and classical conditioning will usually work better for them.
I strive to be motivational for your dog and as reward based as possible, I am committed to using the least invasive, minimally aversive training. I use a variety of training tools to teach, address issues and provide the information and motivation for a dog to learn including:
Rewards (food or toys) / Marker Training (clicker or voice) / Tug Toy play (drive building) / Training Collars / Low Level Remote Collars (for full off lead work)
All these tools are used as and when appropriate depending on the particular dog’s needs and only with the owners full consent. This also depends on the dogs health and age.
Every dog is different so we need to have the largest possible “toolbox” of techniques and equipment available to address the individual dog and his needs.