According to the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, punishment should not be used as a primary approach to dog training.1 When an animal is punished, it indicates that the dog knew exactly what was expected of him and disobeyed on purpose. But in most cases, dogs are simply confused and have not been given the proper reinforcement to behave well in the first place.
A dog cannot be successfully trained when he is constantly afraid of making a mistake.
With that being said, choosing a dog training school that uses positive reinforcement can make a world of difference in successfully training your pet. When your dog is rewarded for good behavior, he will make a positive association with the actions he just performed. Once your dog understands that he will be given a treat or reward for good behavior, he will naturally want to repeat the action again and again because of the positive reinforcement.
When you are looking for a dog training school, it’s critical that you understand this concept. There are many dog training schools online and in your local area to choose from, but the style of training that a school uses will determine whether or not your dog can learn new, good behaviors in a short amount of time.
How to Find Positive Dog Training Schools
If you have already started looking online for dog training schools in your area, make sure that you are searching specifically for keywords like “positive”, “rewards”, and “reinforcements”. You can’t just assume that a dog training school will use positive reinforcement. You must actively seek out local dog training schools that use rewards-based training methods to ensure that your dog is in good hands.
Observe a Class
If you still have questions about the style of teaching that a dog training school uses, ask to observe one of their classes in progress. This will give you the chance to understand the process that a training school implements to reward good behavior and discourage negative behavior in a pet.
All methods used by dog training schools should be humane and positive.
It’s also important that class sizes in dog training schools are small enough to provide each dog with the individual attention that they need. If a class is large, it is essential that a dog trainer has multiple assistants to observe and facilitate training in the class.
Most importantly, look for dog training schools that have an attentive, respectful trainer leading the class. Any trainers that use physical force, like pushing, alpha rolling, choking with a collar, or hitting, should be avoided at all costs. Additionally, watch for trainers that talk down to pet owners whose dogs aren’t making progress. A trainer must be patient and willing to use positive techniques to give a dog the opportunity to learn new associations with good behavior.
Here are a few more questions that you can ask yourself when observing classes at dog training schools:
- Are the dogs happy, or do they look stressed?
- Are the pet owners talking to their dogs in positive, happy voices, or are they scolding and yelling?
- Are the dogs’ tails wagging and upright or tucked between their legs?
These visual cues will help you better understand what type of environment a dog training school is creating. Even if a school claims to use positive reinforcement training, if a class environment feels negative, tense, or harsh, it should be avoided.
Finally, take a moment to talk with current students after class. This is your opportunity to get testimonials and receive personal recommendations. Ask students how they are enjoying the class and how they feel that their dogs have progressed so far.
If the pet owners and dogs appear happy and comfortable in a training class and give you their recommendation, then congratulations – the odds are that you have found a positive training class to teach your dog good behavior!
1. “American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior.”www.avsabonline.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2011.