We only use positive, force-free methods in our training sessions and classes. Not only is this a fair and fun way to teach new things and communicate with our dogs, it is also usually the fastest way to teach new behaviours. Your dog will want to behave well for you so you won’t have to constantly remind him not to pull, not to jump up on people etc.
Positive Reinforcement & Clicker Training
Dogs learn by repeating behaviours that get them a reward until that behaviour becomes “the thing to do in that situation”. We then fade the rewards out but the dog will still behave well even if he only gets rewarded every once in a while.
We like to use a clicker to teach our dogs new things, it’s a little plastic box that makes a “click” noise when pressed. If we pair this sound with a treat, the dog will learn (very quickly!) that the click brings a reward, which makes it a great tool for training. We have to be very precise when communicating with our dogs and the clicker is a great help for us humans to tell our dogs exactly what we want them to do! Most dogs that have been clicker trained will actively offer good behaviours to achieve a click which means they are using their brain to think rather than just follow commands.
However it’s perfectly okay if you don’t want to use a clicker to train your dog, we can teach you the same exercises by using your voice to mark good behaviour.
A few words on dominance
For a long time people have been taking inspiration from wolves to explain our pet dogs’ behaviour because of their shared gene pool. The assumption was that dogs, who are misbehaving, want to exert dominance over their owner and challenge the owners leadership in the pack. Therefore, the owner has to be the alpha in the house and show the dog who is the leader of the pack.
However, nowadays we know that the studies that most of those observations are based on have been performed on wolves that were held in captivity and consisted of wolves that never previously met. These wolves show very different behavioural patterns than actual wild wolf families would naturally do; in reality wolves are shy, family oriented animals that work as a team in a well structured manner.The alpha pair has a similar function to a mother and a father in a human family: they breed, help provide food and protect the family.
But why would we be looking at wolves to describe our dogs’ behaviour in the first place? Yes, they are our dogs’ ancestors and share over 98% of DNA but so do humans and chimpanzees! Would we go to the zoo to find inspiration on how to raise our children? Probably not.
And that’s why our philosophy is based on modern training techniques and the belief that dogs and their owners should build a strong relationship and work as a team as opposed to creating a power struggle over who is in charge resulting in frustration on both sides.
We are proud to follow the APDT code of practice. Please find more information on http://www.apdt.co.uk/members-only/code-of-practice