Positive Dog Training, What’s Wrong With It?


Today we received a telephone call from a potential dog training client who was having issues with the following:
1. Counter-surfing (jumping on the counters, usually to eat food);
2. Eating everything on the floor during walks;
3. Jumping on guests;
4. And nipping everyone

We discussed the use of electric collar training (something that Dedicated Dog Training specializes in), and I felt the vibe, loud & clear that the potential client was very turned off by using an electronic collar (the conversation revealed that, she never had experience with a remote training collar).

She also explained that she would not mind taking the necessary time & steps to use positive dog training methods to solve her obedience training issues with her Lab mix.
Many pet owners believe that e collar training will ruin a puppy or dog or drastically change their personality for the worst. They also believe that positive dog training methods by itself can solve every obedience training issue; this is not so.


Positive Dog Training, Part of a Program, Not the Whole Training Platform

However, the largest obstacle that MOST pet owners face is they get trapped into a belief pet training is one method or the other; an ALL or NONE kind of training regimen with their canine. THIS IS NOT TRUE!
It is very possible to use positive dog training with an e collar.

Here are some things to consider when employing a positive dog training or a reinforcement method only for obedience Behaviors:


The Problem, Positive Reinforcement ONLY, Counter-Surfing

Many pet owners never achieve satisfaction from reward ONLY training when trying to decrease negative behaviors with their dogs. This is simple when you give it some thought:

A dog that jumps on the counter to eat human food will never be trained to NOT jump on the counter if you reward him with dog food. The reward is the food on the counter; it is of higher value than the dog food you’re going to give him for NOT jumping on the counter.

And this applies to many behaviors that have a ‘built-in-reward’ that is perceived as higher value!
It is like offering someone $5 to not take the $100; this on its face, does not make sense and will not work.


The Problem, Positive Reinforcement ONLY, Jumping

Dog jumps on someone, you give the dog food. First, the food you’re probably giving the dog to divert the dog’s attention is something that he has access to a lot, so it has very little perceived value.

Secondly, the excitement for many dog’s in the change of the environment will almost always supersede their appetite for a treat.

Thirdly, even if you have the dog that has as ultra-high food drive, you may get a dog that jumps, eats, jumps, eats and may even confuse the order and believe the jumping produces the food. After all when the dog is in that state of mind, they may not be thinking clearly and your training objective of; four paws on the floor’ gets rewarded.

Lastly, for now anyway, asking your neighbor to ignore your untrained dog is cruel to them; you’re asking a human to perform a behavior because you won’t tell your dog what you need.


The Problem, Positive Reinforcement ONLY, Eating Food From the Floor

Again, the dog is finding something outside that is not so familiar to him will undoubtedly get his attention more than the well-known and highly accessible treat you have for him in your hand or pocket ready to divert his attention.

Furthermore, what if he loves what you have, you will be offering it to him right after he picks the object on the floor up; this will be his conduit to the reward.

The Problem, Positive Reinforcement ONLY, Nipping

Puppy nips and puppy owner throws a toy or treat his way. Great! Puppy nips and gets rewarded for him; he has figured out how to get the reward – he bites you!

Putting him in the crate can be part of a puppy training nipping program, although, it should not be the program; however, if we’re doing that, it isn’t positive training – when is isolation and restriction construed as positive?!


The Real Deal About Dog Training Requires Balance

Like humans, dogs require a certain level of balance, consistency, security, and direction. And yes, sometimes this requires pet owners to be firm & fair on consistent basis.

More importantly, the dog owner needs to realize that like children, their furry friend will go through changes at specific & sometimes general points in their life. We need to successfully meet those challenges and deal with them accordingly.

Positive dog training is the foundation that our Nassau County based obedience training school was built on, but there is more to a house than the foundation.

For example, we use clicker training with food & toys to train and reinforce obedience commands, but what do you do when your dog is not hungry or doesn’t want to play?

For more information on how to properly train your dog so you can move onto enjoying your dog schedule an evaluation today.

  • debi

    I have a 3 month old golden retriever puppy. The first time anything like a dominant dog’s was brought to my attention was through this article sent by a friend. I just keep being told I have to make him know I am alpha. I have successfully trained him to pee and poo outside. He sleeps in a crate. I can’t trust him to run around the house everyone says hello grow out of this. Im6 not so sure as I lotion up Mr bites and scratches on my hands and arms. He really resents the controls, the kennel, the room gate, etc. I paid, for me, a lot of money for this dog and he was and still is intended to be an emotional and physical support animal. The problem right now is he is an emotional drain and I can’t take it much longer. Our old golden retriever, RIP Bodhi, was never anything like this.

    • dogtraining

      Hi Debi,

      Yes, at three (3) months, most puppies will have an abundance of energy. We get it! As you know, everyone has their own take on how to raise a puppy; there are so many preconceived notions on what’s the best course of action to take. Sometimes there’s a ‘wrong’ and ‘right’ way, but many times there is a just ‘different’ ways. Feel free to check out our puppy training packages and let us know if you have any questions.


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