Canine Training – There Are Two Components: Teaching And Motivating
There are two components to training: teaching and motivating. First we teach our friend, the dog, what something means. A behavior is linked with a cue, either a word or a signal. Then we motivate the dog to want to give us that behavior. It sounds very simple, and it can be, when you understand your dog’s unique perspective. What most people don’t realize, is that each method of teaching and motivating has different side-effects, some we want, some we don’t.
Different Methods of Canine Training
All forms of canine training can be be broken down into two ends of the spectrum from indusive motivation to compulsive motivation. Indusive training is paying or rewarding your dog with something they want: food, ball, praise, touch, freedom. Compulsive training is physically making your dog do something, or correcting them if they don’t choose to give you the behavior.
Indusive training, when done correctly, produces a happy exuberant response. It can produce a feeling of entitlement in our friend. Luring, using a treat and moving it around to get the dog to follow, is a common method of teaching. We raise the treat over the nose of our dog until they look up, become uncomfortable, and sit. Then we add the word and reward them with the treat. Sounds easy! It is! The problem is that most people don’t know how to transfer away from the treat, and the giant cue (we are doing more work than the dog!)
Luring is bribery. “Look what I have. I will give it to you if…” We are offering something up front. The dog decides if it is worth it. In any serious situation, when a dog is in drive to defend, chase, or dominate, luring will not work.
Marker training is more advanced and effective, and hopefully, is the next step after luring. We don’t show a treat, or other reward, we produce it AFTER a behavior and link the reward to a sound or signal. We “mark” the moment of success with a sound and THEN we give the reward. We can mark any naturally occurring behavior and get the dog to guess what will please us. We can add words later.
Marker training promotes focus from our friend, but not respect. The positive side effects of indusive training are generally: exuberance, flash, and energy. The negative side effects are generally: jumping, mouthiness, barking, and other demanding behaviors.
Compulsive canine training can start with molding the dog into the position that you want, and then adding the word. For example: lifting a dog’s head and gently pushing down on the rear. “Sit, good dog.” This is clear and simple. Again, we are doing most of the work, but it can be a good first step.
Compulsive training includes correction and punishment. Correction when done correctly, is just information for the dog. A natural consequence that indicates a mistake. It should not involve emotional pressure. Punishment is vindictive, and includes scolding, grabbing, hitting. I feel there is no place for punishment as it breaks trust and makes the dog look guilty. Correction builds respect and focus, and is better for reliable performance even when the dog is in drive to protect, defend, chase or dominate. On the down side, when out of balance, correction can produce a dull response.
Remember that we mentioned that indusive and compulsive canine training are at different ends of the SPECTRUM of MOTIVATION. The key to having a well-balanced pet is BALANCE. Clear communication, using whichever method balances your relationship with your dog. Serious dog trainers will use any method that produces a happy, reliable response to ensure the safety of the dog and its family. When you choose a trainer, or a method, remember that balance is the key to success.