Dog training has been one of the most important parts of domesticating dogs. It has enabled humans to live together with dogs without having to compromise their quality of work. However, there is a lot of controversies involving dog training methods. I am going to talk about dog training: positive reinforcement vs correction, which one is more effective?
Well, positive reinforcement has been popularized while there is a very thin line between correction and punishment. Correction, on the other hand, is more dominance-oriented. This article is going to explore the two main dog training methods and outline the pros and cons of each.
Correction Dog training method
As I have mentioned above, there are several methods of training a dog. However, not all of them are effective. The correction training method is effective, especially when teaching obedience to a dog. At the same time, it is difficult for a dog to resist the natural urge to do something.
For instance, imagine training a dog to stay calm when you are preparing a bowl of food for him. In natural circumstances, your dog wants to get the food immediately. He wants to run to you and eat from the bag. Now, it would be difficult for him to adapt to staying calm without a positive outcome.
I get where the correction method might work. Initially, dogs live in packs. When you bring your dog home, he will also want to belong. It is the reason why most dogs want to be involved in everything. He sees you and the members of the family as his pack.
When using the correction training method, the trick is to establish a sense of authority. You lead and your dog follows, which makes the correction training method dominance oriented. As a result, your dog will quit the undesirable behavior in an effort to avoid disappointing you.
Pros of correction training method
Well, as I have explained above, the essence of the correction training method is to establish authority. This makes the training method effective, especially when training obedience to your dog. For instance, you may use this method to curb undesirable behaviors.
A good example is when you want to train your dog on how to stay calm on your arrival. Well, most dogs will run and jump on their owners out of excitement. However, you can use the correction method to make him stop.
To do so, you can have him on a leash and have someone help you train him. Then approach the door and watch him jump up and down. If your dog is pulling the leash to be let go, the person should slightly pull back on the leash. Be careful not to pull it up and end up hurting your dog.
Instead, instruct your dog to sit down. It is similar to conditioning and desensitization as you are replacing jumping with sitting. However, while using this method, there are no rewards for a well-behaved dog.
The correction training method is a good way to deal with unwanted behavior in dogs. When using this method, your dog will unlearn undesirable behaviors and learn new ones permanently.
Cons of the correction dog training method
We all want our dogs to be well-behaved. However, we must train them to behave the way we want them to. This is not always an easy task as you must remain constant. I have already outlined the training model in the correction method.
While it might appear active, this method also has its demerits. One of the disadvantages of using the correction method is that it can instill fear in your dog.
Most dog owners may fail to understand how to establish authority without making their dogs fearful. Well, as I have emphasized above, correction is based on dominance. It also involves a lot of conditioning. For instance, conditioning has been used to train dogs to sit and wait for their owners to serve food.
Well, this goes against the natural urges of a dog. Of course, he wants to run and get some of what you are serving. Now, failure to stay calm will result in either denying him the much-awaited food. Or you will maybe tell him to stay still in a firm voice. Well, since dogs can detect our anger emotions, they will become afraid of us.
Also, correction is not exactly effective when it comes to other forms of training such as housebreaking a puppy.
However, when used in the slightest form, without implicating fear or punishment, correction is effective in obedience training.
A positive reinforcement training method
I think this is the most popular method of training a dog. It is a reward-based program of training your dog to do just about anything. It has been used to train basic commands as well as major behavior modifications such as housetraining.
Well, I cannot begin to list all forms of positive reinforcement training. However, one of the popular which is also my favorite dog training method is clicker training. I will outline how you can use a clicker to train and also enhance your dog’s behavior.
Clicker training in dogs
Clicker training is a form of positive reinforcement. Well, you will need to purchase the clicker, a device that makes a sharp noise. It is used to signal that a dog has finally adopted the behavior that you have been teaching.
For instance, if you are training verbal commands, the clicker method should help you out. Only use it when your dog obeys your command. You must reward him immediately the clicker goes off. ,
A good example of the clicker training method is training a dog to sit. You should place a treat right above his nose. Ensure that he can smell it. He will follow the treat but make sure he does not reach it. As he struggles to have a bite, lift the treat slightly above until he is on the ground. Use a clicker to acknowledge his efforts and immediately feed him the treat.
Well, your dog will always expect a treat once the clicker goes off.
Pros of positive reinforcement in dog training
Positive reinforcement has seen so many dog owners and professional trainers succeed in training a new behavior. As I have described above, positive reinforcement is effective in training new tricks such as how to sit, stay, and other verbal commands.
It is all about associating certain behaviors with a positive outcome. If your dog relates the word to sit with getting a treat, he will not have any trouble learning the trick quickly.
Unlike the correction method, in positive reinforcement, you bond with your dog during training. This is because you do not need to establish yourself as an authority figure. Instead, you become friends with your dog.
It is an effective method to teach new commands to puppies. Dogs will always look forward to getting a reward after impressing you with the new tricks you have been training them. Well, ensure you get healthy treats for your dog. You do not want him to gain excessive weight from consuming too many treats.
Cons of positive reinforcement training
Positive reinforcement seems to have a lot of advantages. However, there are factors that you might want to consider when using this method to train your pup.
For instance, positive reinforcement will teach a dog to always expect a treat upon obeying your command. It means that you will always need the treat to make him obey your treats.
It can also be an ineffective method of training because your dog can learn self-rewarding. For instance, if your dog has developed the gross habit of eating poop, positive reinforcement might not be the best approach. This is because maybe eating poop is way better than just a usual healthy treat.
To maximize the effectiveness of this method, you will have to make sure that getting the treatment is the only option. This means that you should train your dog in an environment without any distractions. To curb behaviors in dogs, ensure that you eliminate anything that could stimulate that behavior.
Also, positive reinforcement will take some time before your dog starts to respond. He must be able to relate the training with getting a reward, which could take several days. Also, it could take a few weeks before they start responding to the training. Furthermore, you will always have to offer a treat each time they obey.
What do I do if neither positive reinforcement, not correction is working on my dog?
So, sometimes you can try either of the above methods and still fail. It does not always mean that you are doing it wrong. Some dogs can be difficult to train, but do not give up yet. You can still get your dog to adapt to the new behaviors and tricks you have been training him.
Negative reinforcement. Exactly not what most dog owners go for but it does work. This has a lot to do with making your dog’s desire undesirable for him. For instance, when you are training your dog to stop engaging in coprophagia, you can use deterrents.
Another example is when your dog is used to jumping on guests. Put him on a leash when you have someone coming over. Let them see the visitor but each time he pulls towards the holds the leash and pulls back. It is a little uncomfortable for him.
Over time, your dog will realize that when he doesn’t pull, it is not annoying. However, as with the correction method, you should be careful not to make your dog fear you.
Alternatively, you can hire a dog trainer for help. Well, I must admit that training your dog completely is not an easy task. Sometimes your dog will not learn a command or stop engaging in certain behaviors no matter how hard you try.
Well, if you cannot find the time or the patience needed to train a dog, I also suggest you get a trainer to help you. Some of the most complicated dog training include house training and how to stop puppies from biting and nipping.
Positive reinforcement vs Correction dog training
Well, as we have discussed above, these are two important methods of training. Below, I am going to list down the differences and similarities between both methods.
- The correction dog training method is perfect for curbing undesirable behaviors. At the same time, one must be very careful not to cause fear or anxiety. Observe your dog’s response to your training and withdraw if he looks stressed or anxious.
- On the other hand, positive reinforcement is a great method to introduce new training. For instance, through positive reinforcement, you may train him how to sit. However, it might not work to stop existing unwanted behavior.
- While using a positive reinforcement method, you risk overfeeding your dog. Well, this is because you will need to give him a treat after each successful trick. Overfeeding him could easily lead to obesity.
- Before using the correction method, you should already know your dog’s temperament. For instance, it might not be as simple to train a german shepherd dog as it is for a poodle. Well, a poodle will obey a firm ‘no’ but a GSD dog might need to be put on a leash in order to establish authority.
- You have to be timely and consistent when using either of the above-discussed methods. When using the correction method, you must address the unwanted behavior immediately. This will teach the dog why he is being corrected. At the same time, reward your dog immediately he learns a new behavior. Otherwise, your dog may not learn what is expected of him.