I often refer to Mr. N as my “guinea pig” dog because he is my first dog and he gets the brunt of my training mistakes. One mistake I’m glad I’ve never made though is using aversives to train. I’ve always trained him positively from the beginning.
I didn’t really have a training philosophy when we first got him. Nor was I really aware of different training philosophies or tools. I just knew that I didn’t agree with using corporal punishment as a learning tool for children or for dogs and I wanted my relationship with my dog to be one based on trust and affection and not fear.
Maybe it’s because he’s generally well-behaved or because he’s tiny but no one has ever suggested I use a prong or shock collar on him or alpha roll him either. Although one woman did suggest debarking him when I mentioned he had separation anxiety…
Mr. N has a really soft temperament. I’ve never even raised my voice at him and yelling at him might break his tiny little heart. I yelled at the screen once during a soccer match and ever since then he has been super wary of us watching soccer. Using force on him would be pointless and unnecessary.
Portland has numerous positive reinforcement classes (unlike many other places) so I didn’t have any trouble finding positive-based training classes. Mr. N has taken a couple of training classes (basic manners, a reactivity one and some sports workshops) but the bulk of his training I have done myself using various books and DVDs and Youtube videos. I also take classes through Fenzi Dog Sports Academy which is online, positive-based and has classes for almost every dog training issue or sport.
He gets rewarded for good behavior and making good decisions. We use his preferred reward medium (mostly food and some life rewards like chasing squirrels and going for walks, we’re slowly trying to add play into the mix). He does not believe in this working solely for praise thing. He is pretty biddable but he is a terrier and he wants a good reason to work!
I try to set him up so he doesn’t fail. And when he does something he’s not supposed to, he gets redirected or removed from the situation or misses out on the fun.
And all this creates a dog who wants to work with you. After a few minutes of acclimation at the park, he decided to ignore the squirrels and the birds and the kids and we worked on his latest trick. We did a few repetitions working in the new distracting environment and then as a reward, we went off to go chase some squirrels.
How did your journey to positive training begin?Welcome to First Monday’s Positive Pet Training Blog Hop hosted by Tenacious Little Terrier and Rubicon Days. Please share your responsible pet owner positive pet training tips by linking a blog post or leaving a comment below. Our theme for this month is my positive training journey but any positive reinforcement training posts or comments are also always welcome. The Positive Pet Training Blog Hop goes all week long. Our next hop will begin October 3rd and continues for a week.