Dog training is an ever evolving field, a generation ago it was all about enforced compliance and strict discipline, nowadays it is all about science.
The theory of how animals and humans learn has been studied in great detail over the past 100 years and there have been many advancements during this time. We now know that for dogs, learning through their own experiences is very important, practice and repetition helps to strengthen their behaviour. We also know a lot more about reward and punishment and how these affect a dog’s ability to learn.
Since the 1960s the predominant view in dog training was that most problems associated with the behaviour of dogs were due to dominance issues, this was based on studies of wolves and extrapolated to pet dogs. There a few different problems with this theory, a fairly major one is that dogs are not wolves, modern day dogs and wolves do share a common ancestor but they went their separate ways about 15,000 years ago, a lot of evolution has happened in that time. On top of this, the research that these theories were based on was so significantly flawed that even the original researchers have retracted it. Perhaps it is better to base our thoughts on studies of actual pet dogs instead.
The sad fact for dogs is that methods of dog training based on dominance or pack leader theories often involve a large degree of punishment. From studies of how animals learn we can see that this isn’t the most effective way of changing behaviour, it generally causes suppression of behaviour but does little to change the underlying emotion that caused the animal to act that way in the first place. This means, you may see a short term change but it is unlikely to be a long term solution. Punishment based training also poses ethical dilemmas, is it fair on dogs that we choose to take them into our homes and then set about punishing them for acting like dogs?
Thankfully, there has been a revolution in recent years and like many other good trainers, Brighton Dog Training bases their training on modern research about dog behaviour, training and theories of learning rather than flawed and outdated ideas of dominance. All training is reward based and force-free, meaning the dog is set up for success. The training environment is controlled so that they have the opportunity to make the right choices about how to behave which is then reinforced. It is important to understand that positive training methods do not mean that your dog is allowed to behave inappropriately or that you cannot stop them from engaging in behaviour that you don’t like, good manners and ground rules can all be taught with reward based training. It is much more effective and kinder to our dogs to train in a way that causes no harm physically or mentally.
Don’t Just Take Our Word For It
Many other training and animal welfare organisations take the same view on the importance of positive and reward based training methods.