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!
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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:
If you have a local Dogs Trust Dog School, then you can be sure that the classes will be run to be best standards and with the most up to date advice. Check out the Dogs School page to find your nearest classes. Dog School classes are designed to be fun and engaging, with content that is based in the latest research and experienced instructors, so you can be sure that both you and your dog have a positive experience and learn lots of new things!
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