Dog Training right now is very diverse. When looking for the right fit, it might seem a bit frustrating because everyone’s style is a little different. For this topic we will be talking about why to avoid Positive Reinforcement Only trainers.
What does Positive Reinforcement Only mean?
It means that every time the dog does something “good” (sit, down, stay, etc.) he gets rewarded with a treat. On the other hand, every time the dog does something “bad” (jumps, nips, lunges, barks, etc.) the behavior is ignored and a better behavior is encouraged.
Think about it this way... how would you feel if you were growing up and your parents ONLY rewarded you for doing the right thing? They NEVER told you “No”.
At first, it sounds kinda nice! No one likes consequences.
But, how would the world we live in look like without consequences for our bad actions? It would be a madhouse. Maybe even similar to the movie The Purge.
Okay so what’s my point?
Trainers that use Positive ONLY training are ultimately putting dogs in danger.
Sounds harsh, I know. But let me tell you why:
If you’ve ever gone through a positive only training class with your dog, you will be the first to admit that your dog mostly likely ONLY does the command IF you have a treat in your hand. So how well is your dog actually trained?
Let’s say you give your dog some off leash freedom which he normally does great with because you bring treats. This time he sees a rabbit. So he starts chasing the rabbit. You’re calling him but your treat is NOT better than the rabbit he’s chasing. At this point the rabbit rushes across the street, your dog follows and gets hit by a car. Now you’re devastated.
Without consequences of not coming when called, you’re putting your dog’s life at risk.
When walking through a Rescue or a shelter, it’s easy to notice that most of the dogs have had hard lives and carry some baggage. Some of them may even be a danger to the public.
Most shelters and rescues use positive only training. Yet, ALL of the dogs could also benefit from some rules. Such as: no jumping, no pulling, no excessive barking, no lunging, etc. In fact, it might even save them from being euthanized.
Positive Reinforcement is very useful if it’s used in conjunction with the other 3 quadrants of dog training (Positive Punishment, Negative Punishment, and Negative Reinforcement).
Make sure you’re looking out for your dog’s best interest by doing your research before picking a dog trainer. We all look great on google, yelp, and social media but that doesn’t mean that all dog trainers can provide the results that your dog needs.