I use and teach positive reinforcement methods in my training sessions using Reward Markers and Rewards. Reward Markers may be a click from a clicker, a special word (Yes!), or some other signal to the dog that they got it right or are on the right track. Rewards may be treats, toys, play time, a chance to go outside, permission to sniff the local pee-mail, butt scratches, etc. Whatever motivates the dog most at that particular moment.
I also believe that Nothing In Life Is Free. For my dogs, this means they must pay me with good behavior in order for me to pay them with food, playtimes, trips away from home and the aforementioned butt scratches (Big favorite for my Buddy). I get paid with sits before going in and out of doors, loose leashes when walking, attention to me versus the stranger walking down the road, and so on. In return the dogs get paid with a healthy diet, chew toys, games, walks in the woods, trips to the park, and so on.
All living organisms are interested in surviving, getting good things, and avoiding bad things. They will work very hard to get the good things and to avoid the bad things - once they know how to do so. This is what Operant Conditioning is all about, consequences, good or bad, threatening or non-threatening.
Think of it this way – would you work hard for someone who had total control over your life but who paid you grudgingly and seldom? Someone who might actually hurt or scare you if you did something wrong, whether you understood what that wrong thing was or not? Would you just do what you had to do to get by and slack off whenever you could and look for any opportunity to get some extra pay “on the side” and maybe make a break for freedom if the opportunity arose? What would the uncertainty of not knowing when the punishment might arrive do to you?
Now flip that over. Would you work hard for someone who had total control over your life but who paid you generously, provided unexpected bonuses, gave affection freely, provided safety and security, education, exercise and entertainment, and who also allowed you the freedom to make some choices based on your own desires? Would you want to do everything in your power to please that person, to stay within their expectations, to follow their rules, boundaries, and limitations, to keep their attention? What would the uncertainty of not knowing when the next reward might arrive do to you?
Why should your dog be any different in his desire for survival, for getting good things and for avoiding bad things? Dogs do what works for them in their individual situations whether that is working to gain your favor or seeking to avoid punishment. I help you find what works for your dog and show you how to use it to shape their behavior to meet your wants and needs.
I am a pain-free trainer. I would much rather help you teach your dog what TO DO in a given situation INSTEAD of what not to do (misbehaving or reacting inappropriately).
Inappropriate behaviors are dealt with using Negative Reward Markers (Oops!) and Negative Punishment. Good things (Rewards) are taken away instead of given.
Example: I ask the dog to sit, he lies down instead, I say “Oops”, put the treat back into the treat bag and turn my back (removing the food reward and my attention to the dog). This method can take more repetitions than forcing the dog to sit, but the dog learns to “think” and realize the consequences of his actions. This “thinking” builds your dogs confidence in their ability to find what works to get the good things and the speed of learning increases.
I do not use chain collars, electronic training collars, alpha rolls, scruffing, dominance or any physical punishment.
Physically punishing a dog can create more issues, rather than less, if not correctly and very precisely done. See my Resources Page for more information on Punishment and Dominance
If you are looking for someone to teach you how to punish your dog, I am not the trainer for you.