Man with dogHave you ever attempted to correct a behavior with your pet by yelling “NO”? Or have you wondered when the day would come when stubborn Fluffy would finally learn to STOP PULLING ON THE LEASH?!?

You’re not alone. Most pet owners have experienced behavioral problems with a pet at some point in time. Behavioral challenges are typically a result of negligence in the areas of training and socialization. They can also stem from ineffective or punishment based training methods.

Since many of our canine companions come to us with unknown backgrounds, sometimes we find ourselves in situations where training needs to be provided to a young-ish pup or readdressed with an adult dog.

Positive Training: Why it is More Humane and Successful

Positive reinforcement, or responding to the correct behavior with a reward, is the basis of most modern canine training classes. Where traditional training methods relied on somewhat outdated concepts of ‘alpha’ dog and dominance based learning, what we have found is that this approach can actually instill fear and behaviors we don’t want to see.

Positive training also relies on one of the strongest drivers or motivators for dogs: their need to please us or the family “pack”.

Positive reinforcement training typically entails some or all of the following:

  • Basic, simple commands, such as “sit”, “stay”, “drop it” and so forth
  • Verbal and treat reward for each successful completion of a command
  • Clicker training, which reinforces the verbal and treat reward with a clicking noise
  • Training sessions that are short, often group-oriented (to encourage socialization), and focused on enjoyment
  • Gradual decrease in treats as reward and increase in verbal praise
  • Pet owner education, encouraging a greater awareness of physical cues, redirection tactics, and a stronger human-animal bond

Preventing Behavioral Problems

According to a study published in the October 2008 Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research 2, results suggest dogs trained only with positive reinforcement exhibited fewer problem behaviors.

Sometimes, however, we adopt pets that arrive with issues we need to address.

Some of the more common issues include: separation anxiety issues – chronic barking, destructive behavior, etc. – phobias and anxiety, and aggression (generally prompted through resource guarding).

The good news is that most behavioral issues, as the research suggests, can be addressed at any age through consistent positive training.

At St. Francis Pet Resort & Rehabilitation Center’s Perfect Paws Pet Training, we emphasize the use of positive reinforcement and pet owner education. We can help you learn to use positive methods at home to encourage the behaviors that will make you and your pet happier, less stressed, and more confident.

To learn more, contact Perfect Paws Pet Training or Godspeed Animal Care.