Which Training Method is Right for Your Dog?

Mar 02, 2020     |      Sophie's Circle

A man petting a dog after a run on the beach.Are you looking for the best training methods for your adopted dog? There are so many choices it can be overwhelming to a new dog owner or the first time you have come across a specific behavior you would like to change. The good news is dogs are very smart and can often learn what you want them to do with some help from consistently applying training techniques like those listed below.  

  1. Praise Training 
    Let's start with one of the most popular training methods called "Praise Training" or "Positive Reinforcement". Everyone enjoys this method because we all love to give our dogs praise. Plus, it's practically free! There are no ongoing treats required, you can perform the required training at home using a book or online reference, and there are no specialty items to buy. The key is to learn when to give attention and when to ignore. For example, you will immediately give your dog lots of praise and affirming pets each time the desired behavior is performed and withhold all eye-contact, physical contact, and verbal contact when your dog is performing an undesired behavior. While a book or online reference is useful to learn the timing and strategy, in the end, it is all about daily consistency from all family members and visitors.

  2. Clicker Training
    This is another fairly inexpensive method of training that is often combined with praise training for best results. The idea is the "click" sound can be administered faster than the praise to give the dog both an informative and rewarding response the moment the wanted behavior is performed. A lot of professional trainers and breeders also like this technique because it prevents them from having to vary their voices as the primary source of praise thereby allowing them to remain in a more steady calm state that is less distracting for the remaining of the training session or show event. Although the clicker can reward the dog with a sound he learns to associate with praise, the drawback to this technique is the clicker cannot correct unwanted behavior. The ignoring technique as mentioned above or another effective correction method would be combined with the clicker training for the purpose of changing unwanted behavior.

  3. Redirection Training
    Praise training and clicker training are more about teaching new commands and rewarding the desired behaviors while ignoring undesired behaviors. However, sometimes, you need a fast correction such as when your dog lunges at another dog on a walk. Ceasar Millan made this distraction technique popular as he redirected the dog's attention with a quick yet not harmful touch. Some trainers use treats to distract and hold the dog's attention until the concerning event is over and the dog is once again calm. Of all the methods, this one may require the most expert advice as situations arise. That said, once you have the methodology in place, this technique can be efficient in altering disorderly conduct.   

  4. Compliance Training
    Like the redirection technique, compliance training may be used to teach your dog not to react to certain stimuli in the environment. Let's say the issue is once again the dog lunging at other dogs on a walk. The owner would ask a friend with a dog to walk towards the misbehaving dog until he takes an anxious posture. Then, the friend walks his dog away until the anxiety subsides leaving the dog in a more compliant or peaceful state and ready to listen for commands before allowing the dog to slowly begin another approach. There are books and videos available to teach this technique. For those who own dogs that show aggressive tendencies, an experienced trainer and training facility may be required.

  5. Model Behavior Training
    Do you have daily access to a dog that knows all the tricks you want to teach your pet and is an excellent role-model for behavior? If so, using another canine to show your dog what to do can be extremely helpful. Dogs are social animals, just like humans. They want to please you, and they can learn from you and other dogs the actions that receive the reward of the attention they crave. Of course, this method works best when combined with some of the other techniques like praise training or clicker training. 

In short, there are several training techniques that are considered highly effective and most are inexpensive to learn and apply. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recommends praise training while ignoring less desireable behaviors on their website. Clicker training is another fan fav with breeders and trainers. On the other hand, there are some negative behaviors that require a higher level of response. Redirection, compliance, and model behavior top the list of positive methods for safely teaching your dog a new approach to a concerning issue. If you are searching for a dog to adopt for your exciting training venture, visit our adoption page to get started on finding, training, and bonding with your very own amazing dog today!