The Art of Airy Fairy Dog Training!!!!
As a positive reinforcement dog trainer, I often hear the phrase, “Airy fairy trainer” or “bribery training”.
After 24 years I have heard it so often the words literally go over my head! I let the results of the training and the sight of a happy relaxed dog talk for the methods I and many of my colleagues use!
Many trainers still use coercive and punishment based training methods that are sadly years behind up to date scientiﬁc research. This old style training technique will work but the corrections for pulling on a lead (choking the dog), corrections for biting (from biting the dog back, smacking, to pinning down on the ﬂoor ) and the corrections for jumping up (kneeing in the chest, squirting with water) are basically interrupters to the unwanted behaviour, and unless they are consistent and seen as a punishment by the dog they will just confuse them and only stop the behaviour temporarily. But worse than that you are not showing / teaching the dog what you want them to do instead of the behaviour that they are naturally doing or the behaviour that the owners have reinforced (allowed to develop).
Positive reinforcement training is based on scientiﬁc research! Research also shows that having to be the “pack leader” to your dog is also ﬂawed! But that’s another subject for another time!
Let's take a look at your dog - How many times do you tell them oﬀ for — barking at the door, jumping up at the kitchen tops, table, chewing something inappropriate, pulling on the lead, digging in the garden, not coming when called? Now I want you to compare that with how many times you reward them for sitting or standing whilst you or a guest greets them, walking on a loose lead, lying calm on their bed whilst you prepare dinner or watch TV, amusing themselves with a toy whilst you get on with some work? Be honest you rarely reinforce the behaviour you want most — am I right?
Sadly we often overlook our dogs good behaviour and only notice the bad! Stop reading this for a few seconds — what is your dog doing? Nothing? Nothing is a great behaviour to reinforce? Nothing is probably the behaviour you want your dog to do the most! Nothing whilst you eat your meals, nothing whilst you work, nothing whilst you chat on the phone, nothing whilst you chat with someone you have met out walking, nothing when you watch TV in the evening, nothing when you have visitors round.
Should you reward this nothing before you get back to ﬁnishing this article?
Have you heard the saying “you get what you pay for”? Try applying this to dog training. If you see your dog undertaking a behaviour you like — pay for it.
All behaviour is learned in the same way
• it is performed
• you mark it with a clear consistent word (yes, good, bingo)
• you pay
Payment is not bribery — it is a reinforcement, It is an investment in a behaviour. The behaviours that are reinforced will become stronger and more consistent.
Join me as an Airy Fairy Dog Trainer! Make a list of what you want your dogs behaviour to look like and list it in a positive reinforcement way — for example, instead of ‘don’t pull on the lead’ try ‘ walk next to me on a loose lead’. This way you have a picture of what you are going to mark and reinforce.
Now you have your list, you will have to observe your dog more to ensure you reinforce at every available opportunity.
Remember we are not nagging the dog for these behaviours — these are behaviours he chooses to do. Nagging is tiring for us and eventually will become white noise for your dog.
Your dog is smart he will soon learn what makes the treats appear!
To avoid your dog piling on the pounds allocate some of their daily food allowance to this training.
ALL OF OUR ARTICLES. HINTS, TIPS AND ADVICE ARE GENERALISED. SHOULD YOU HAVE A SPECIFIC TRAINING OR BEHAVIOUR ISSUE ALWAYS SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP BEFORE EMBARKING ON ANY TRAINING PLAN. IF YOUR DOG IS SHOWING A SUDDEN NEW BEHAVIOUR, WE STRONGLY ADVISE A VETERINARY HEALTH CHECK