Dog Training. What type of method is best for me?
When it comes to dog training it can be challenging trying to find the right trainer for you. A dog trainer should be experienced in dog training as well as dog behavior aka Dog Behaviorist. They don’t necessarily have to be book smart as long as they have enough experience working with different breeds of dogs big or small and have helped correct bad behaviors.
Dog trainers/behaviorist can always learn continuously from other trainers and people. It bugs me when I hear dog trainers influence people not to listen to one trainers type of training versus another.
For instance Cesar Millan from the show Cesar 911 (On NATGEO Wild, Fridays 8 pm) also known as the Dog Whisperer is a great trainer. He uses a combination of positive and conditional training techniques. Although he is known widely for his conditional (Alpha) techniques, he has grown to change his extreme techniques because not everyone can do those or agree with them.
Cesar has written a book called, Cesar’s Rules: Your Way to Train a Well-Behaved Dog. The inspiration for this book was written because not everyone agrees with his Alpha techniques so he consulted with trainers of all backgrounds to give a range of theories and methods so dog owners can find what techniques works best for them. This is what I mean when a trainer is continuously learning and altering their training to become better at what they do.
Victoria Stillwell is another great dog trainer who also had her own TV show called Its Me or The Dog on the Animal Planet channel. Although this show has been cancelled as of March 2012 she still has her Top Ten Training Tips on the Animal Planet website and several books available on her website.
I like Victoria as well because she teaches positive reinforcement where the dog gets rewarded for doing what you want them to. She is very knowledgeable to help the owners to get control of their dog when they do not know what to do with the bad behavior.
What I can say about both of these training methods is that attitude is what is required to get your dog to listen to you. Whether you use positive or conditional your attitude is key. If you let the dog take control and do whatever he/she wants then that’s what they will do. It’s always easier to understand what to do by watching and learning rather than reading but you can get a heads up and start learning the terminology and techniques from the books.
As far as the differences in techniques, Cesar is a more take charge method and a lot about attitude and your energy. It helps you practice getting your energy into a calm state and controlling your anxiety about your dog. It takes practice, and although not everyone can tap their dog on the side when they are misbehaving because they either don’t want to or afraid their dog might redirect on them. It is a preference and there are other ways to get your dog under control with the leash or other tools.
When training with positive reinforcement what I can say is that treats aren’t for every dog. If you have trained with treats sometimes dogs can get stuck on only doing something for you if you have a treat and even then you can be taken advantage of and not really get the respect you need if you’re always pushing treats down their throat. It is about bonding, praising and treating is extra credit.
Usually treats work to get your dogs attention or help train them with commands but it may not be enough for every dog and in that case praise or even a ball may be what the dog will work for. I totally agree with Cesar when he says exercise, discipline then affection because if you have a total spaz dog with energy through the roof exercise can help get them to focus when you’re trying to teach them something, even dogs with issues.
With all training positive or conditional each style uses a piece of the other whether they like to acknowledge it or not and practice is the only way to make changes happen.
In closing, I want to say that you make the choice on the type of training that is best for you and your family. I recommend watching both type of shows/videos or books and make your own decision, besides those trainers must be doing something right if they have their own television show!