Our understanding of dog behaviour has changed considerably over the past few decades. Historically, there were misunderstandings about why dogs behave as they do. For example, it was believed for a long time that dogs developed behaviours like aggression in order to achieve high status or ‘dominance’ over their owners. Unfortunately, this led to training methods based on coercion or punishment in order to ‘keep dogs in their place’. With recent research, we know that this type of approach is not only unnecessary but counterproductive. Punishment based training methods cause fear and anxiety in dogs, and are associated with the occurrence of undesired behaviours, including aggression towards other dogs and people.
At Dogs Trust we train dogs using reward based methods, and do not advocate the use of any training equipment which changes behaviour by causing pain or fear in dogs. As you can see below, there are multiple reasons why reward based training is better!
If our furry friends will respond to their names it means we can help to keep them safe when life becomes dangerous – a vehicle suddenly driving around a park for example, or a broken bottle. We can also help to keep other people safe – when they’re having a picnic for example and we need our dog to look at us instead of at the pork-pies on offer! Being responsive to their name means our dogs can have greater freedom in life and helps them to develop a meaningful bond with us, as well as helping us dog-owners be socially responsible within our local communities.Read more
Having a dog which walks calmly next to you on a loose lead makes going out for walks a much more relaxed and enjoyable experience! It is also much better for our dogs to learn to walk on a loose lead - pulling on the lead can be uncomfortable and even sometimes cause damage to the throat. When teaching dogs to walk on a loose lead, needs to be built up slowly - starting when your dog is not excited or distracted and building up gradually over time. Read more to find out the stages for training a dog to walk calmly on the lead.Read more
Learning to sit is often the first thing a new puppy learns - so it is really important to get it right! The technique is the same for adult dogs or puppies: encouraging them to sit using a food reward, and giving the reward just as their bottom hits the floor! As the dog learns the behaviour, the food 'lure' is no longer needed and the dog associates the action with the word "Sit". Read more to find out the details of each step in training, and see our super cute puppy model learn to sit for the first time!Read more
Being a responsible pet owner includes making sure that you teach your dog some basic obedience to ensure that you can keep him or her under control in public places. Reward based training also helps to build and strengthen the relationship between you and your dog, and makes being with your dog a more pleasurable experience. There are lots of different sorts of training classes, and lots of instructors with different qualifications or memberships, (but remember - a long list of letters after their name is no guarantee that the instructor is suitably qualified or experienced!) so choosing where to go with your dog can be very confusing. Finding a trainer who is accredited with a professional organisation that has a code of practice, insurance and assessment procedures for membership will help to ensure standards. For example, The Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) in the UK accredits trainers who have been assessed to ensure their competence, and who sign up to a code of conduct which includes an undertaking to not use coercive or punitive techniques and equipment.
It is always a good idea to attend a training class without your dog first, so you can assess the type of training that is being used, see if you feel relaxed with the instructor and assistants, and would be happy to bring your dog into that environment. When you visit, take note of the following points when evaluating the class:
Training is very important to make sure that dogs fit into our lifestyles. But it's also really important to have a good understanding of the behaviour of our dogs. Knowing how dogs learn, understanding what motivates them, and being able to recognise straight away when things are going wrong are important in preventing problem behaviours. Read on to find out more about your dog's behaviour!Read more