What is Positive Only Training?
At Bark Busters we often get asked about our methods, and specifically if our dog training is "positive-only." Well, we know that our training is as positive as it gets and the best and fairest training available because it's based on the way dogs naturally communicate
To better understand what we mean, let's look at what positive means.
One of our clients recently brought a puppy into their family. They love the puppy very much, but they also understand that dogs need structure in their liife. They must establish some boundaries for the puppy in order for it to grow into a well-adjusted adult dog
For example, the puppy sleeps in a crate. Why?
- Because it is not yet toilet-trained.
- Because they want the puppy to sleep through the night.
- Because they want the puppy to be comfortable in a den space that is all its own.
- Because they want to provide the puppy a break from its human siblings when it wants to sleep and the kids want to play.
There are lots of other reasons too.
When they first put the puppy in its crate it wasn't very happy. The puppy didn't think this moment was very positive. It probably also thought it was unfair — as their older dog did not need to be crated.
After some crate exercises, structure, and repeating the same routine for a few days, the puppy now happily enters and spends time in its create. Crate training this puppy is what is best for him and the family, even though the first few times of introducing it was not 100% positive. But, it is natural, humane, and without harmful tools.
Treat-training has to be a positive-only training method, as what dog doesn't love rewards and treats, right?!
Well, it might surprise you to learn that treat-training isn't always positive, even from the dog's perspective.
Ever heard of Pavlov's dog?
The fancy term for this phenomenon is "classical conditioning," which really just means that if repeated often enough dogs learn to associate one thing with another.
Let's say a dog doesn't like to ride in the car, it gets car-sick, or is fearful. The dog-owner treat trains the dog and lures the dog into the car every time it needs to go for a ride with a piece of sausage -- the dog's favorite treat! After 3-4 "sausage lessons" the dog learns that sausage, its once favorite treat, now means a trip in the car!
Today, every time the dog owner brings out a piece of sausage the dog runs and hides.
Is this positive-only training?
With all of this information in mind, what would be the true meaning of ‘positive-only’ training?
No rules at all? Dogs are allowed to bark, raid the trash, bite the kids, and play until they climb on the couch and fall asleep? No rules, no having to obey owner's request to "come," and without a doubt no "sit" or "stay!"?
Dogs are naturally social, or pack-animals, In their world, there is a hierarchy, rules, and roles. These roles need to be established and dogs naturally understand this structure from birth -- it's in their DNA and they instinctively know it keeps them safe
The structure is natural, humane, and operates without harmful tools or unnecessary treats - just like Bark Busters training methods.