Obedience Training for Dogs:
Puppy Training Styles and Methods




Obedience training for dogs and puppies encompasses the art of teaching canines certain behaviors and skills. It's also the key to raising a well behaved dog.

Because dogs as pack animals are equipped with an instinctual predisposition to live with humans and follow their lead, training for obedience proves to be a successful venue for obtaining wanted behaviors.

When it comes to training dogs and puppies, there are many training methods and styles to choose from. But are they all equally effective?

Evaluating Different Training Styles

The field of training dogs has been subjected to controversy over which methods and styles prove to be the most effective.

More and more trainers and dog owners are embracing the rewarding world of positive reinforcement training which is gradually and steadily establishing itself with great success. Positive reinforcement training revolves around rewarding dogs for giving desirable responses while managing or ignoring unwanted responses.

 
Obedience Training for Dogs

On the far end of the spectrum lies compulsion obedience training for dogs which encourages punishment as a deterrent for unwanted behaviors. These were training methods commonly used decades ago, based on correcting dogs for non-compliance, often using harsh collar corrections, ear pinches, leash jerks and alpha rolls.

Fortunately, research suggests that dogs learn faster and more effectively through reward-based methods.

There is indeed a vast array of scientific data demonstrating the effectiveness of positive reinforcement training. It comes as no surprise therefore why more and more trainers are embracing this training method. Compulsion-based trainers that have decided to convert to positive reinforcement obedience training for dogs are commonly referred to as "crossover trainers".

An Overview of Obedience Training for Dogs Methods

If your are embracing the world of dog obedience training, you may wonder which method will be right for you and your puppy. We will take a look over some positive reinforcement training methods that will help you build a better bond with your puppy and allow you to train like the pros.

Shaping

Imagine having a blob of play dough and then shaping it into an apple. With shaping, this is what you are metaphorically doing with your puppy; you are basically creating a behavior from scratch by rewarding successive approximations.

One of the best ways to accomplish this is by using a dog clicker in clicker training. With a clicker you can precisely mark behaviors that gradually get closer and closer to the finished product.

Example:

If your objective is to train your puppy to carry a newspaper, you will click and treat every time your puppy gets closer to it, when he touches it, when he holds it in its mouth for 1 second, then 2 seconds and then when he walks carrying the newspaper in its mouth.

Capturing

Imagine using a magic camera to capture all the behaviors you want from your puppy. With capturing, this is what you are ultimately doing, even though in a slightly different way. Basically, with this training method you will be "capturing" by rewarding your dog in the act of doing a spontaneous behavior you like.

Example:

If your objective is to train your puppy to lay down, you will have to be watchful so every time your puppy lays down you click or say "good boy!" followed by a treat. icon With time, your puppy will feel compelled to lay down more frequently.

Luring

Imagine using bait to lure fish close to your fishing pole. With luring, you are basically "guiding" your dog into wanted behaviors. The theory is that the dog's body goes in the same direction as where its nose goes. This opens the path towards allowing your dog to assume various positions and learn many tricks.

Example:

If your objective is to train your puppy to sit, you can use a dog training treat to lure the dog into position. Simply move the treat from the dog's nose up to the dog's head and your dog's rear should touch the ground. Right upon sitting, deliver the treat.

Targeting

Imagine using an arrow to hit the bull's eye on a target. With targeting, you are basically telling your dog to aim for a specific target.

Basically, with this method you will train your puppy to touch with its nose or paw a specific "target" which can be a sticky note, the end of a target stick or your hand. The target can then be moved in certain ways so to train the dog to perform certain tasks.

Example:

If your objective is to train your dog to turn off the lights you can teach your dog to target a sticky note and then move the sticky note where the light switch is, until your dog learns to turn off the lights with its paws.

Modeling

Imagine positioning a mannequin in different ways. With modeling, you are basically asking your dog to pose for you. Because this training method involves physically positioning the dog, this method is often used as a last resort.

Example:

A dog can be taught to lay down by stepping on a shortened leash or a dog can be taught to sit by pushing down on its rear. However, this is not an optimal training method because many dogs dislike being touched in such a way and also because dogs have a natural opposition reflex to pressure.

Choosing the Dog Training Obedience Method

So which obedience training for dogs method is best for your puppy or dog? This ultimately varies from one puppy to another and several other factors.

For instance, if you are in the beginning stages of learning how to train your puppy or dog, you may find luring to be the easiest and fastest way to train. Capturing, on the other hand, may appear a bit intimidating since it requires great timing to mark wanted behaviors as they unfold.

Obedience training for dogs is one of the most important aspects of responsible ownership. The best part of training your dog is that the better trained your dog, the more freedom he can be given, ultimately leading to a far happier dog.

Make obedience training for dogs an integral part of your life so you can reap the rewards of having a reliable and well-mannered four-legged friend.

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Want to learn more?

Puppy Training

If you are a new dog owner and want to learn more about dog behavior and obedience training for dogs, I highly recommend you read and follow this Secrets to Dog Training guide. It's written by a professional dog trainer and is full of techniques you can use to modify your dog's behavior.


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