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How to Train Your Dog: A Scientific Approach

Dog training today has evolved beyond the traditional methods. Trainers have managed to successfully research the behavioral sciences and adapt them into new methods and techniques in their dog training programs. Read this article to find how newer methods differ from the old-fashioned ones.

Getting a new pet is exciting, but raising one can sometimes be a bit of a challenge. Owning a dog essentially means taking on a new set of responsibilities. Additionally, training them without a clear understanding of how to do this properly and efficiently can give rise to new issues.

Therefore, many techniques have been evolved through years of research, regarding what is the best way to teach your dog to be obedient and well-mannered. In this article, we will be looking at the prevalent and new dog-training techniques from a scientific bend of mind. 

Professional help is widely available today, and you could ask for help from dog trainers in your area, if you are struggling with your pup.

Just like humans have been taught to have a specific time to eat, bath and sleep, dogs should be taught a similar routine too. Their timings may differ, but the basic idea remains the same. For dogs, their eating schedule and pot-training schedules are the most important areas that a dog owner should pay attention to. It is never a good idea to let a dog excrete freely in the house. Therefore, morning and evening walks are so important. But, it is difficult for a dog owner to learn all the tips and tricks of dog training on his own. If your dog isn’t taught to acclimatize to the schedule you follow in your house, co-existence could become difficult for both, the dog and its owner(s). This is why professional help is important if you are not sure how to proceed with training your dog. What professionals do is train your dog according to new and improved techniques which are more likely to take root in your dog’s mind. These new techniques have years of observation, measurement, experiment, and hypotheses behind them, which is what makes them so effective. 

What are the Outdated dog Training Methods?

Old-fashioned or traditional dog training methods are quite popular and can be easily used by dog owners. However, many researchers have now proven that traditional dog training techniques may not be as effective as the newly discovered techniques. Some of these old-fashioned techniques use force, which can be severely detrimental to the mental health of the dog. Old-fashioned methods aren’t cruelty free, and we would advise to steer clear of them, especially since there are many other, kinder methods available now to train your dog. So, how do you know whether you are using these old-fashioned methods or not?  Given below are some of the most frequently used old-fashioned techniques.

  1. Collar Training:

There are several types of collars available that come in handy during morning and evening walks. Some of the common ones are pinch, shock and choke collar types. They can be used with dog leashes too. 

The shock collars are used for owners who might find it difficult to train and handle their dogs. These are tied around a dog’s neck and produce a slight shock when required. The dog owner controls it with the help of a remote. When the dog shows behavior unfavorable to the owner, he can press a button so that the collar produces a slight shock to the dog. The dog associates this unpleasant feeling with the particular behavior, and therefore, after repeating this whole process a few times, ceases to behave that way.  The pinch and choke collar types are used on dogs that are easier to handle. When the dog is attempting to take an action that should be avoided, the dog owner can pull the leash. This is bound to cause a little tug around his neck, thereby, stopping him.

The collar method may be effective, but, may not be completely safe for the dog.

  1. Reward Training:

The reward training revolves around the idea of giving the dog something it likes, while attempting to make it obey commands, thereby reinforcing the favorable behavior. This type of training can be tried by the owner, for example, during the dog’s eating hours. While feeding it, he can be asked to “sit” or “stand”. When it obeys the command, the food will be served. This method works well if administered properly. In fact, it is the best way to train anyone- animal or human. However, if not done correctly, it could give rise to certain issues, for example, if the dog gets accustomed to this method, it will want a reward every time it obeys a command, and otherwise he will not obey it.

What are the Scientifically Backed Modern Dog Training Methods?

There are many types of modern dog training methods that have been backed by science. The fundamental idea revolves around reinforcement and punishment. The reinforcement methods reinforce good behavior that the owner feels should be followed by a dog and the punishment methods stop the dog from exhibiting bad behavior

 The traditional methods are part of the Classical Conditioning method, which is now considered “old school” and is obsolete, for all intents and purposes. However, it still continues to play an important part in the day to day activities shared by you and your dog, be it intentional or unintentional. Classical conditioning demonstrated how a neutral stimulus could become meaningful to a dog when followed by something that elicits a natural response. So when a bell, meaningless in itself, is consistently followed by food, the sound of the bell alone triggers salivation. Both, Classical as well as Operant Conditioning use the ability of the dog to associate stimuli with positive, negative or neutral responses to train the dog.  The principal behind classical conditioning is very straightforward. Anything neutral, like, a sound, a place, a word or an event, followed with something naturally meaningful to the dogs (unconditioned), like food, an electric shock or a loud sound can become associated with either positive or negative things happening. Classical Conditioning is now considered outdated because since it was introduced in the early 20th Century, there have been many developments in the field of behavioral science, and the field has expanded to include cognitive, genetic and biological influences. Thus, the more recent Operant Conditioning method is now endorsed by trainers.

 The four scientific dog training methods mentioned below are part of Operant Conditioning. Operant Conditioning is a scientific technique developed by researchers and professionals to make dog training easier for both, the owner and the dog. They have been proven to be better than the traditional ones.

 They are as follows:

  1. Positive Reinforcement:

One of the most popular approaches of the scientific dog training is positive reinforcement method. It revolves around the idea of reinforcing positive habits and behaviors in a dog by several means.

One of the popular means is presenting the dog with a reward or treat whenever he follows a command and shows positive behavior. Some of the common treats are dog treats which are available in the market today, pieces of chicken and peas. The treats should be highly desirable by the dog. This method does not involve any forms of punishment. Punishment can scare the dog away or upset it. One of the best forms of punishment is just by simply ignoring the dog for a while. The positive reinforcement sessions should be short, and it should help the dog and its owner to grow closer.

  • Pros:
  • Motivation: The dog gets a treat, or a walk, or belly rubs (or anything that it really loves to have) every time it obeys a command, so it actively remains motivated and learns faster.
  • Fast Process: It can learn simple commands like sit and stand very fast. Thus, making it easier for the dog to learn difficult actions with ease.
  • Bonding: The owner rewards it with treats or walks or something else it really loves, and which makes for good bonding time between the dog and its owner.
  • Zero Punishment: No forms of physical or verbal punishment are used during the training.
  • Cons:
  • Session Time: The session should be kept short as a longer session can frustrate both the dog and the owner.
  • No Treat: One of the common problems faced by owners who have used this method is that they can sometimes become dependent on the treats to reinforce the good behavior in their dog, which in turn leads to the dog becoming dependent on treats to exhibit that behavior. The owner needs to trust the process enough to feel that the dog, at a particular point of time, has learned enough to exhibit the behavior even without a treat.

 

  • Negative Reinforcement:

A lot many times people think that the presence of the term “negative” refers to something unpleasant- such as hitting the dog, or not letting it have its favorite treat. It is nothing like that, however. It simply means reinforcing a particular behavior in a dog by taking away something negative from its environment, every time it exhibits that particular behavior.

One example of negative reinforcement is when the dog’s bottom is pushed to force the dog into a sit, and then released once the dog is in a sit. Assuming the behavior of sitting goes up in frequency, the behavior was negatively reinforced by the removal of the pressure on the dog’s rear end. However, negative reinforcement should not be the first choice for you, among methods to train your dog. This is because, in order to be able to take away something unpleasant from your dog’s atmosphere, you must first add something unpleasant to it, that may not be very healthy for the dog, therefore, we do not advise this method, strictly speaking. It could be effective, but won’t be a very pleasant experience for the dog.

  1. Positive Punishment:

 In everyday language, we often say punishment when what we technically mean is positive punishment.
Punishment means something that reduces the likelihood of a behavior happening again, i.e. the behavior goes down in frequency. And positive means that something is added. So positive punishment means adding something after the dog did a behavior that makes the frequency of that behavior go down.

For example, if the dog jumps up and you knee them in the chest, and next time you see them the dog does not jump up, you have positively punished the dog jumping. You added something (the unpleasant sensation of a knee in the chest) and reduced the frequency of the behavior. However, this isn’t the most effective way of training the dog, since it may end up perceiving this as a game and not stop jumping up. Another way to positively punish the dog is to tug on its leash when it’s going out of the sidewalk, or not obeying your command to sit. This puts a slight pressure on the dog, and it learns to behave. Sometimes, some people use shock collars as a way to positively punish their dogs. That can’t be very healthy for the dog. That’s the reason we do not advocate using this technique.

  1. Negative Punishment:

This is another method of dog training which involves punishment. Negative Punishment is different from Positive Punishment.

The most effective way to carry out this method is by the combination of correct timing and no reward strategies. When the dog does something undesirable, he should be punished by you. This form of punishment will include taking away his favorite snack or treat. By this way, he will know not to repeat this again. 

Why Use Scientific Dog Training Methods?

The answer is pretty clear: scientific dog training methods are constantly changing and evolving to make the training easier for both, your dog and you. This is the main reason why most dog training methods today use the Operant Conditioning method of training. It is also pertinent to mention here that before implementing these methods on your dog they study and understands everything surrounding and leading up to the behavior that is to be changed or induced in your dog. These are some of the most humane and friendly ways to train your dog.

Since these methods are in line with the Operant Conditioning method of behavior correction, they have been seen to be more effective than the traditional methods of dog training.

It is important to know that both, traditional and new methods are part of the Operant Conditioning system. However, traditional methods are more about making the dog afraid to perform something or displaying authority and sometimes even cruelty to the dog. New methods are backed by more recent scientific research and are about training the dog, according to its psychological bearingsPsychology Articles, more than using force.

Source: Free Articles from ArticlesFactory.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Willie Mays is a housewife, good mother, pet lover and a blogger. Auxier is her dog and Mimo is the name of her cat. She loves them very much. She has an aim to help other pet owners by sharing her experiences with her pets and that’s why she wrote about apoquel alternatives for dogs in her blog. 



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