Balanced Dog Training
What is it?
When most people think about dog training, they start to wonder if their dog will become a 'robot' or lose their personality which simply is NOT true....
Dog training is about using your dogs' unique qualities and quirks FOR training! Let me explain:
If you have a 'crazy' (aka high energy) dog and you love that side of them, imagine if you could tunnel that energy in a positive way to create the ultimate 'working' relationship. You don't have to literally take your dog to work; instead you channel their enthusiasm and drive, using their favourite toys or food as a payment.
This is where Balanced Training becomes important: Where you reward for desired behaviours, you must also equally correct (teach and deliver a consequence) for undesirable behaviours. This gives the dog a holistic understanding of how to and how not to behave, creating a well balanced animal able to adapt to your lifestyle.
Keep reading to understand the 4 parts of reinforcement and punishment in dog psychology.
The four quadrants
Anything that increases the likelihood of a behaviour to be repeated
Anything that decreases the likelihood of a behaviour to be repeated
Negative punishment -
The dogs behaviour causes reward to stop.
Positive punishment -
The dogs behaviour causes a consequence.
Negative reinforcement -
The dogs behaviour causes consequence to stop.
Positive reinforcement -
The dogs behaviour creates a reward.
Reinforcement - Reward your dog with a treat after he/ she sits, you increase the likelihood of this behaviour occurring again.
Reinforcement - Stop lead pressure when your dog is walking to heel, this increases the likelihood of this behaviour repeating.
Punishment - Correcting your dog when an unwanted behaviour starts will decrease the likelihood of it happening again.
Punishment - Removing your attention/ affection when unwanted behaviour occurs will decrease the likelihood of this behaviour repeating.
Why Is Punishment Good For Dogs?
One of the main causes for behavioural issues in dogs is confusion - often due to
a lack of boundaries +/- conflicting instructions from different household members. Confusing signals and expectations create conflict in a relationship and a 'badly behaved' pet. Many dogs are allowed to have free rein as puppies or in certain situations (e.g. the house, yet not outside) but then are expected to understand what 'no' means without the proper teaching.
Using both forms of punishment alongside all the great kinds of rewards allows for efficient learning of what is acceptable and what isn't. It is easy to let human emotion cloud our judgement when it comes to dog behaviour, often comparing it to children that can be happy, sad, naughty, scared...etc. What we tend to forget, is that children also have to do their homework, be respectful and listen to their parents - so why don't our dogs?
To put it simply: Dogs need clear instructions when growing up, just like us. To do this we need to reward for good behaviours and give a consequence for the bad!
Now when it's put like that, punishment doesn't seem so terrible right? Correct!
In fact, most of my clients hadn't even thought of my methods of teaching and training but when its explained and put into practise the results speak for
Behaviour Modifications - Reinforcement & Punishment
It is true that its easier to mould a puppy's mind than rewrite the script of years of poor behaviour. However, implanting ALL 4 quadrants of dog training make's it a tonne easier and far from impossible.
When I see clients, most of them have already tried the 'force free' way for severe behavioural issues with unsurprisingly little results. Positive training has its place in the world, and is a huge part of balanced training, but it can leave many people feeling hopeless and seeking years of help from various resources, vets and trainers.
I always train the dog in front of me - using techniques that will work for that individual dog. Some may need one quadrant implemented, some may need all four over several sessions. The key is to observe, understand and implement in a way that will ensure understanding and progress!