10 Reasons to Use Positive Dog Training Methods

10 Reasons to Use Positive Dog Training Methods

April 2021 Dogs, Dog - Training

Number One

It is more fun. Your emotional support animal or service dog will enjoy the training process. They will be excited to see you and the training tools you use. Each new command or trick you teach your dog will be a joyful experience. Service dogs have very important jobs to do, and if you use positive dog training methods to teach them, you both can enjoy the work! If you pair the training with something negative, they will be less inclined to want to learn from you and work for you.

Number Two

You can teach your service dog or emotional support animal what you actually want. Positive dog training methods are based on rewarding desired behaviors. You teach them what you want and reward them for it as opposed to punishing them for doing something wrong.

Potty training is always a good example to use for this idea. If your dog has an accident in the house, it is not out of disobedience. Many dog owners think you must show them their mess and reprimand them for it as punishment. This does not do much for your dog except possibly make them afraid of you. They do not come into your home knowing where they are supposed to go to the bathroom. It is much more effective to teach your dog to use the bathroom outside than to teach them they are in trouble if they go inside. Either way, they still need to go. They just need to learn where! When they go outside and use the bathroom, you can reward this behavior. The reward encourages them to repeat it.

Number Three

Punishment can actually amplify the negative behavior. Your service dog or emotional support animal may have some bad habits like barking at the window when people pass by. A lot of dog owners will yell out of frustration or anger. You may think this is letting your dog know they need to be quiet. Your service dog perceives it differently. In his mind, you are yelling at the same thing he is barking at. You are in it together. It actually encourages your dog to bark because they think you are teaming up on the supposed threat!

Instead of yelling at your service dog, take a step back, and think about the situation. Is your dog alerting you to something they perceive as a threat? Are they bored? What commands do they know? When your dog is barking at something if you put them to work, give them a command they are familiar with like "come" and "sit" they will start to break the fixation on things outside of the house. They will see you as the leader of your household and stop feeling the need to alert and guard.

Using a positive method is not relinquishing control. Its taking control in a way that clearly communicates what you want from your dog.

Number Four

Building stronger bonds with your service dogs

Positive dog training methods build a stronger bond between you and your service dog or emotional support animal. The training process is a learning experience for both of you so taking it on with a positive mindset is vital to success. Your dog will make mistakes. You will make mistakes. Using positive training methods will allow you to learn from them as opposed to being punished. Your serviced dog will learn to look to you for instruction because you are communicating clearly to them what you expect. If you punish your dog for mistakes it will confuse them and cause distrust in you.

Number Five

Positive dog training methods work better. Your service dog or emotional support animal will learn to do their job more effectively if you tell them what you want them to do. If you tell them what you don't want, they may not repeat those behaviors, but you're not training your dog NOT to do things. There are countless studies that show operant and classical conditioning with positive reinforcement is far more effective with dogs than the latter.

Using positive training methods is easier for dog owners and dogs. You are able to focus on a common goal. Whether it be sit, stay, come, walk in a heel, or even a fun trick, your service dog or emotional support animal will understand positive reinforcement much better than punishments.

Number Six

There are more tools and resources available for positive reinforcement training. Punishment only has one way to get through to your service dog or emotional support animal. Dogs learn at different paces and with different motivations. Some are treat motivated. Some are toy motivated. Some are play motivated. You have options for rewards and options for tools. Clicker training, verbal praise, car rides, walks, and most types of attention are all rewards for good behavior. They all enforce what you want from your dog.

As dog training evolves, there are more trainers readily available that use positive reinforcement training methods as opposed to punishment. This means if you seek out professional training for your service dog or emotional support animal, you will most likely meet with a trainer who uses those methods. If you take a step back and think about this the reason is quite clear: it works better!

Number Seven

Punishment based training can make your service dog or emotional support animal afraid. It adds stress to what is usually already a heightened situation. For example, if your service dog gets excited about another dog and you harshly correct the excitement with something negative, they may become fearful of that dog. This may work to keep them from getting excited about that dog, but what about other dogs? Do you want your dog to be afraid of all dogs? Having a service dog who is afraid of anything can derail the important work they do. Fearfulness can lead to aggression and dangerous behaviors from your service dog. Instead of using punishment, you can redirect your dog's focus back to you and reward them for that behavior. They learn nothing bad comes from the world around them. They also learn to look to you when they are unsure of what they are encountering.

Number Eight

A service dog sitting after a positive training day

You will feel good about working with your emotional support animal or service dog. There will be no feelings of guilt if you accidentally go overboard while training. If you are using positive methods the only way to go "overboard" is to give them too many treats! When you go out into the world and put your dog's skills to good use, you will feel pride in all you have taught them. If you got there through punishment and anger, you will likely not succeed, or feel very good about the progress you've made.

Number Nine

Using positive training methods sets a good example for those around you. In today's society, emotional support animals and service dogs are important members of the community. They help the people that need it most. Many people are impressed when they see a dog out in public behaving. It can spark a conversation about training methods. If other people see you treating your service dog well, they may be inclined to do the same with their pets. Even if they don't have an emotional support animal or service dog, they may be inspired by the way you treat yours. Others may want to try training their pet but have been intimidated by the idea of inflicting punishment on their dogs. You and your service dog can set an example for people and their pets in the community and help them see a better way of living together.

Number Ten

Your emotional support animal or service dog will do their job better. They will feel more confident in you as a leader. Using positive training methods will show them they should turn to you in times of uncertainty. Your dog should look to you when they are scared. If they need direction, you will be the one to give it to them. They will be excited to go out into the world and do their job. If you pair their training with something positive, it gives them purpose. All dogs want a job to do. If you put them to work with positive training methods, they will always feel that sense of purpose. It is a healthier way to go about training and living with your service dog or emotional support animal!

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