Having a pet dog can be a rewarding experience, but it’s not a simple task. Fostering a great relationship with your dog is important, especially if you intend to assimilate them into your household.
Whether you treat your dog as your best friend, a family member, or a constant companion, we must not forget that they are animals, who are not capable of predicting what we are feeling or understand what we are saying.
There are numerous studies, advice, and tips from experts, behaviorists, and plain dog owners on how we can effectively communicate with dogs. Looking for the most effective dog training method can be daunting. Here are some of the popular techniques you can use in training your furry friend.
Learning through Classical Conditioning
Dogs often learn through association. Sometimes owners have no idea that certain actions have already conditioned their dog’s behavior, and they get confused seeing their dogs act irrationally. Let’s say your dog runs around excited and happy, every time you’re holding their leash. The dog knows leash means going out for a walk; they’ve learned it through association.
When the dog hears a clanking sound in the kitchen, he would run towards his food tray looking for food. Your actions can create involuntary reactions from your dog through association, especially if they associate it with a desired object. Knowing this will help you modify the type of behavior you want to restrict or motivate.
How Operant Conditioning Works
This training method is driven by consequences. A dog learns to perform or not perform a certain behavior based on its consequences. If the consequence is negative, the dog will discontinue the behavior, and if it is positive, the dog will be motivated to repeat it just to get the desired result. To make it work, you need a primary and secondary reinforcer.
For example, your primary reinforcer is food – it’s the one that creates a behavioral response. Your secondary reinforcer could be sitting or behaving quietly – the dog must associate these stimuli to the primary reinforcer.
So, if every time the dog sits or behave quietly, he is given a treat, the dog will associate the good behavior with the treat. Positive and negative reinforcement were derived from this method.
The Dangers of Traditional Dog Training Method
Some dog owners choose to train their dogs using the traditional method. This method aims to correct a behavior by creating aversion or punishment. It could be shouting at the dog or using a shock collar for excessive barking.
Whatever punishment is given, the owner thinks it will condition the dog to stop the unwanted behavior. But, this technique has long been discredited by experts. They believe that punishment or using coercion to train a dog is counterproductive. Studies suggest that this weakens the bond between humans and their dogs. Instead of being reinforced to behave appropriately, most dogs would act more aggressively towards their owners.
Remember that the most effective training method is the one that would strengthen the bond between you and your dog. You should start by understanding why your dog behave in a certain way. This will help you choose what type of training method suits them best.