I have to admit, I am on the fence with the whole clicker training and positive only training that seems to be kicking around the dog training fields lately.
I do like with positive only training the whole breaking things down into steps to help the dog understand what you want him to do. I like that. Sometimes I think things are broken down too much when with some hands on helps the dog gets smaller steps introduced a bit more quickly, but The whole breaking things down into manageable pieces makes sense to me.
I dislike with clicker training the fact the most people can’t “click” at exactly the right time. Therefore they are not rewarding what they think they are rewarding. and that to me is a problem.
I dislike with positive only training that the advocates don’t want any punishment or “negative reinforcement” used at all. I still remember my dog agility trainer correcting me for saying “ACHH” to my dog when she was about to do something in training class that she wasn’t supposed to. I kept her (my dog) from making an error in judgment, got her thinking on a different track and she learned. So I still can’t quite figure why that was so bad to do.
A tap on the nose is wrong, a verbal correction is wrong and dogs take forever it seems sometimes to learn something.
NOW>>>this caveat…some trainers use an excessive amount of “negative reinforcement”. that to me is also unacceptable. Ear pinches, hauling a dog up by a leash, tossing a dog across a room, locking a dog up if it doesn’t do what you want when you want it to…. that’s a bit above and beyond.
BUT a push on the dog’s bum to help it learn to sit. A leash pulled down the ground to encourage the dog to lay down. A tap on the side to get his attention when he’s following a squirrel and not listening. Actually putting your dogs feet on top a dog walk plant because he’s scared to approach it (but not forcing him to go over). What’s wrong with this? What’s wrong with ACH!!! or NO! when a dog is making a poor decision?
In a nutshell…I see the good in both and wonder….so just what is so wrong with melding the two together? Encourage the dog more than punish him. Break things down into smaller pieces if the dog just isn’t getting the bigger picture. Tell the dog when it’s made a wrong decision and help it think through what a better decision would be. Praise, treat, reward, play with your dog. But use good common sense.
Use what works with your dog, but don’t let your dog be the boss. It’s your house, you get to make the rules. It’s your dog sport, you have to enforce what is allowable in your dog sport. Can’t have a lungey barky dog? well then either don’t play, or teach your dog better manners. Can’t have a dog chasing the neighbours cat home…well then teach your dog to stay home OR tie him up.
Train your dog in a manner that doesn’t break his spirit and you will have a good dog companion and if you do dog sports, a dog more willing to work with you.