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What are dog training methods and why do they matter?


Hiring a dog trainer and deciphering training methods and lingo can be confusing and often sound too good to be true. This article will help you understand the lingo and methods and also serve as a guide on how to hire a dog trainer.


Table of contents:


Training method definitions and how they are used.

Positive Reinforcement Training:

This method focuses on rewarding desired behaviours with treats, praise, or toys.

Dogs learn to associate good behaviour with positive outcomes, making them more likely to repeat those actions. It's a humane and effective way to train dogs and build trust between the trainer and the dog.


Clicker or marker Training:

Clicker or marker training utilizes a small device that makes a distinct sound when pressed.

The sound of the clicker marks the desired behaviour, and the dog receives a reward.

Dogs quickly learn to associate the click with rewards, making it a precise way to communicate during training.


Behavioural Training:

This approach addresses specific behavioural issues such as aggression, anxiety, or phobias.

Trainers analyze the root causes of the behaviour and work to modify it through conditioning and desensitization techniques.


Alpha Dog or Dominance-Based Training:

This method emphasizes the trainer establishing themselves as the "alpha" or leader of the pack. It often involves techniques like leash corrections and physical corrections to assert dominance. It's a controversial approach, as it can be harsh and may not build a positive bond with the dog. It is also not recommended by the B.C. SPCA, veterinary behaviourists and many other credible, modern, science-based dog training associations.


Electronic Collar Training, also casually known as: off-leash training.

Also known as e-collar or shock collar training, this method uses a remote-controlled collar to deliver electronic stimuli to the dog to cause discomfort to punish the dog for not complying with requested behaviours.


Canine Behaviorism:

Based on the principles of animal psychology, behaviourism focuses on conditioning dogs to respond to cues and commands. Trainers use techniques like classical and operant conditioning to shape behaviour.


Behaviour Modification: This approach often involves addressing and modifying problematic behaviours. Trainers identify the root causes of issues like aggression or anxiety and work to modify these behaviours using a combination of positive reinforcement and correction techniques.


Science-Based Training:

This method relies on the latest scientific research in animal behaviour and learning theory.

It emphasizes positive reinforcement but adapts to individual dogs' needs, taking a more holistic approach.

cream retriever puppy sitting and staying on grass.
Nola the cream retriever sitting and staying during her board and train puppy boarding school program.

What is compulsion / balanced / pack leader dog training and what methods are used?


Key aspects of compulsion dog training methods include:


Negative Reinforcement: Compulsion training often employs negative reinforcement, which involves applying an unpleasant stimulus or pressure until the dog performs the desired behaviour. The pressure is then relieved as a reward.


Punishment: Punishment is a central component of compulsion training. It involves applying aversive consequences when a dog exhibits undesired behaviour. Common punishments include leash corrections, physical corrections, and verbal reprimands.


Tools and Equipment: Compulsion training may use specific tools and equipment like choke chains, prong collars, or electronic collars (shock collars) to administer corrections or aversive stimuli.


Strict Hierarchy: This method often emphasizes the concept of dominance, where the trainer establishes themselves as the "alpha" or leader of the pack. Dogs are expected to submit to the trainer's authority.


Immediate Corrections: Timing is crucial in compulsion training. Corrections are applied immediately when the dog misbehaves to create a clear association between the behaviour and the aversive consequence.


Dependence on Aversive: Compulsion training can create a dependency on aversive methods, and some dogs may become fearful or anxious when undergoing training. This can lead to negative emotional and behavioural consequences.


Lack of Positive Reinforcement: In compulsion training, positive reinforcement (rewarding good behaviour) is often minimized or absent. This can limit the dog's motivation to engage in desired behaviours willingly.


Ethical Considerations: Compulsion training has faced criticism for its potential to cause physical and psychological harm to dogs. Many professional trainers and organizations advocate for more humane and positive reinforcement-based training methods.


It's important to note that the use of compulsion training methods is a hot topic of debate within the dog training community and among animal behaviour experts. Punishment, physical force, and compulsion lead to undesirable consequences, such as fear, aggression, and mistrust in dogs and pain and discomfort is not dog training.


Two dogs down staying in a field with CareyTrainsme
Farley the Pyrenees mix with Kastro the Corgie enjoying social time during Kastro's board and train program.

Modern dog training is science-based and the most effective and long-lasting.


Modern dog training has shifted towards more humane and science-based methods that prioritize positive reinforcement, clear communication, and building a strong bond between the trainer and the dog. These methods focus on motivating dogs to learn willingly and without fear, ultimately leading to better long-term results and a happier, well-adjusted canine companion. Compulsion methods are not used by Carey Bolduc or her team at #CareyTrainsMe


What is Force-free dog training and how is it used?


Force-free dog training methods, also known as positive reinforcement training, emphasize using positive and reward-based techniques to teach and modify a dog's behaviour. This approach relies on motivating the dog through rewards and building a strong, trusting relationship between the trainer and the dog. Here are the key components of force-free dog training:


Positive Reinforcement: The foundation of force-free training is positive reinforcement. This involves rewarding a dog immediately after they exhibit a desired behaviour with treats, praise, toys, or affection. The goal is to make the dog associate good behaviour with positive outcomes.

Science-Based Methods: Force-free training is grounded in scientific principles of animal behaviour and learning theory. Trainers use this knowledge to understand how dogs learn and apply effective training techniques.


Clear Communication: Effective communication is crucial in force-free training. Trainers use consistent cues and signals to convey their expectations to the dog. This clarity helps the dog understand what is expected of them.


Empathy and Patience: Force-free trainers prioritize empathy and patience. They recognize that each dog is unique and may require different approaches to training. Training sessions are designed to be enjoyable and stress-free for the dog.


No Aversive or Punishment: Force-free training strictly avoids the use of aversive methods such as physical corrections, choke chains, prong collars, or shock collars. Punishment is replaced with positive reinforcement to encourage good behaviour.


Motivation: Trainers focus on motivating the dog to actively participate in the training process. Dogs are encouraged to think, problem-solve, and make choices, making training mentally stimulating and enjoyable.


Desensitization and Counterconditioning: Force-free trainers may use desensitization and counterconditioning techniques to help dogs overcome fears, phobias, or anxiety. This gradual process helps dogs build confidence and reduce negative associations.

Building Trust and Bond: The trainer-dog relationship is central to force-free training. Building trust and a strong bond between the trainer and the dog is a priority, as it enhances the dog's willingness to learn and cooperate.


Redirecting Undesirable Behaviors: Instead of punishing unwanted behaviour, force-free trainers work on redirecting and rewarding alternative, more desirable behaviours. This approach helps eliminate problematic actions without causing stress or fear in the dog.


Lifelong Learning: Force-free trainers encourage lifelong learning and training. They promote ongoing training, socialization, and mental stimulation throughout a dog's life to maintain and enhance their skills and overall well-being.


Force-free dog training is considered humane, effective, and suitable for dogs of all ages, breeds, and temperaments. It can address a wide range of behaviour issues and create happy, well-adjusted dogs while fostering a positive relationship between dogs and their owners.


Choosing a dog trainer is an important decision that can significantly impact your dog's behaviour and well-being.

Yellow, Black and Silver Labs sitting and staying during their training time at a local dog park.
Yellow, Black and Silver Labs sitting and staying during their training time at a local dog park.

How do you pick the right dog trainer for you?


Here are some steps to help you choose the right dog trainer.


Training Methods:

Understand the trainer's training methods. Ensure it aligns with your own beliefs and preferences. For example, if you prefer positive reinforcement-based training, look for trainers who share that approach.


Identify Your Training Goals:

Determine what specific behaviours or skills you want your dog to learn. Whether it's basic obedience, behaviour modification, or specialized training like agility or therapy work, knowing your goals will help you find a trainer with the right expertise.


Research Local Trainers:

Start by researching dog trainers in your area, including Abbotsford and the Lower Mainland. You can ask for recommendations from friends, veterinarians, or pet professionals in your community.


Check Qualifications and Credentials:

Look for trainers who are certified by reputable organizations such as the International Association of Canine Professionals (IACP), the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), or the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT). Certification indicates a commitment to professional standards. There are many accreditations and certificates from industry leaders like Dr. Ian Dunbar, Victoria Stilwell, Karen Prior, Patricia McConnell PhD, Jean Donaldson, Grisha Stewart, Karolina Westlund PhD are a few of #CareyTrainsMe’s favouites.


Visit Their Website and Read Reviews:

Visit the trainer's website to learn more about their training methods, philosophy, and experience. Read online reviews and testimonials from previous clients to get a sense of their reputation.


Ask for References:

Don't hesitate to ask the trainer for references from past clients. Speaking with people who have worked with the trainer can provide valuable insights into their effectiveness and professionalism.


Observe a Training Session:

If possible, attend a training session or class conducted by the trainer. This firsthand experience will give you a sense of their training style, their interaction with dogs and clients, and the overall atmosphere of their training sessions.


Ask About Experience and a training plan.

Inquire about the trainer's experience working with dogs, especially those with similar needs or issues as your dog. An experienced trainer is more likely to handle various situations effectively.


Clear Communication Skills:

Effective communication is vital in dog training. Ensure the trainer can clearly explain training concepts and techniques to you and demonstrate them with your dog.


Training Methods and Tools:

Ask the trainer about the methods and tools they use. Ensure they use humane and ethical training techniques. Be cautious if a trainer heavily relies on punishment-based or aversive methods.


Flexibility and Availability:

Consider the trainer's schedule and availability. Ensure their training sessions or classes fit your schedule and location preferences.


Cost and Value:

Compare the cost of training services with the value you expect to receive. Keep in mind that investing in professional training can lead to a well-behaved and happy dog.


Trust Your Instincts:

Trust your gut feeling when evaluating a trainer. Choose someone you feel comfortable with and who demonstrates a genuine love for dogs.


Trial Period or Consultation:

Some trainers offer a trial period or consultation before committing to a full training program. This can be a great way to assess their suitability for your needs.


Remember that the right dog trainer should not only have the necessary expertise but also be someone you can work with collaboratively. Building a positive relationship with the trainer is essential for successful training outcomes. Take your time to research and choose a trainer who aligns with your goals and values as a dog owner.





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