Training – A balanced approach
Here at My Love Fur Paws we strongly believe in the balanced approach in our training Methods. It is scientifically proven to be the most effective method for most dogs. The reason it is called the “balanced approach” is because you are using all quadrants of the “Enforcers” hence a balanced approach. The enforcers include:
- Positive Punishment: Giving a dog correction via e-collar or prong collar for misbehaving.
- Negative punishment: Removing the punishment that is being given often it is pressure via a prong collar or martingale.
- Positive Reinforcement: Giving something to increase the rate of behavior i.e. treats, toys, food, water, play.
- Negative reinforcement: Taking away something to increase the rate of behavior such as treats, toys, food, water, play.
This is meant to be an educational post, I hope by the end of this you will have an open mind to most manners of training and how it can be beneficial to many dogs that are in need of structure.
What does it mean?:
The use of “positive” and “negative” are not used in their usual connotation, they simply mean “to give” and “to take”; they have been purposely been twisted by other “pure positive” trainers, however, to make it sound much more appealing to the general audience. Essentially what it means in terms of training terms is “I give reinforcement, no corrections”. They may use negative punishment in some ways, they may not. I cannot speak in general of every “pure positive” trainer, but the major consensus has been among most is that corrections are bad, and positive reinforcers are good.
Positive and Balanced:
The difference between balanced approach and pure positive primarily is the use of corrections. Pure positive will often hardly give, or not give any corrections. On the other hands, balanced approach will give corrections when needed but also praise and reinforcement when the dog performs well.
The reason corrections are not a bad thing to gives dogs is because it is the only way we can communicate with them. We cannot talk to them and get into a discussion why chewing on the couch is bad, or why we do not want to be pulled during our walks. The only way we can communicate is via discomfort and pressure. People say dogs are no longer packs, in some cases this is true, but many things have translated over even after several thousand years of domestication. Dogs truly do believe in a leader, this is a human world and they are only dogs living in it. Imagine a child with no parent in metro square New York City. The world is going to be large, confusing, and scary. As a dog owner it is our job to inform them they can rely on us, but we must ensure that they have confidence in themselves. This is where structure comes in.
Anything built is only as strong as the foundation, and the structure of the project. This is the same with dogs; you are the pillar of their foundation. You must be consistent in their correction and in their reinforcement. If you begin to deviate from what has already been established your dog’s behavior will begin to suffer and it is quite noticeable when this occurs. I tell everyone, you get out what you put in. The more effort you put into the much better results you’re going to get. It is our job to ensure they understand what it is what we expect out of them.
An important side-note to this is that we must set them up in the best possible setting to ensure their success. We cannot set our expectation too high, but we cannot set them too low either. It’s important to understand the level in which our dogs are at, I’ve had too many people misinterpret what I try to convey. You do not expect your child who’s in high school football be able to compete with NFL professionals. If we come to expect too much or too little, progress will not be made. With the former, it could actually be detrimental to the overall process and be counter-intuitive. Progress must be steady, consistent, and above all, you must be patient. These are living creatures, they do have minds of their own, and the overall goal is to change their mindset in which they’re not completely aware of.
The balanced approach and certain training tools are not to be viewed as the boogeyman of training, but instead taken exactly for what they are; tools. Just as a hammer can be used to build a tree house or used to tear down a wall. It depends on our knowledge of the practical uses and applications of these tools. In some cases, a prong collar (plastic or metal) may not even be needed depending on the tolerance threshold of the dog, so something less severe may be needed, such as a martingale.
In retrospect, it is imperative to grant a dog understanding of what the corrections of these tools imply and they are not simply to be feared. Again, application is pivotal for the dog to have a deeper understanding the process that is occurring. Treats and verbal cues are crucial as well as the consistency in deliverance. Praise must be associated with treats or the best reinforcer, while corrections must be meant with a verbal cue to inform them of what they are doing is unacceptable. An understanding of the application itself comes with proper timing and practice.
I hope very much this blog has allowed you to have a much clearer understanding of what we do here at My Love Fur Paws. The balanced approach is widely considered the most effective training method. Some dogs do not always require this method of training, but in my opinion, should always be graduated to it. The most important things in training is the consistency, application, and timing. I highly encourage not trying to implement the use of training tools yourself without professional consultation first. Keep calm with your dog; it’s very important you do not get frustrated. As long as the consistency is there, the structure is implemented, and you’re putting your best effort first, your progress will shine.