While all dogs are different, it is difficult to find one that will behave perfectly without some form of dog training. This is because there are many things dogs do naturally which we find offending? For example, some dogs will eat their own poo. Others will bark for no apparent reason and this list can go on and on. It is thus advisable to bring your dog for training early, before these problem behaviours develop as correcting them later will require more effort and time on your part.
Problem with Procrastination
The problem with many dog owners though is that rather than bringing their dog for training when they first have the dog, they look to training only when problems develop. By then, they are usually in desperate need of urgent solutions to their problems and are often hoping for miracle cures.
Often such owners end up in obedience schools that teach traditional compulsion based dog training. Why? Because through corrections and teaching dogs that they have no choice, they are usually able to solve the problem fast. Many of these schools will go on to attribute some of these problems to dominance and prescribe solutions to teach the dog that you are the boss. Pack theory inevitably gets brought into the picture as well because such training focuses on putting you firmly as the leader of the pack. Today organizations like the American Pet Dog Trainer Association (APDT) are cautioning against the use of such techniques. See their article on dominance and dog training.
While we may not be an animal behaviourist ourselves, as positive rewards based dog trainers, we do know that there are more ways than one to skin a cat. For example, rather than relying on the dominance approach to solve the problem of reactive dogs, Grisha Steward through her BAT (Behavior Adjustment Training) technique shows how this can be done, through a series of functional reward, without the use of compulsion. Others like Jean Donaldson, founder of the world renown Academy of Dog Trainers, have been successful using Desensitization and Counterconditioning, yet another humane and gentle means to treat dog aggression, thus making dominance centered training unnecessary, except perhaps for owners in need of quick fixes and their poor unfortunate dogs that will like be subjected to harsh training because of their owners’ initial procrastination.
Problems Compulsion Training may Cause
While it may be possible to solve some problems fast by applying corrections, such training methods also bring along another set of problems. For example, rather than learning that the offending behaviour is wrong, the dog may learn instead that it is dangerous to perform the inappropriate behaviour in front of you. Once this happen, it becomes even harder to catch the dog in the act and correcting it after the fact is unlikely to help because it will associate the correction with its latest action and not the problem behaviour.
To counter this, some compulsion trainers use tools like shock collar or shake cans to try to disassociate themselves as the ones administering the correction. The dog therefore learns that with or without the owner around, the inappropriate behaviour is punished. This will usually solve the problem but then again, this too, may cause yet other problems. For example, if you own a very nervous or shy dog, applying such forms of corrections when the dog least expect may cause the dog to be even more nervous and suspicious of its surrounding. Worst still, fearful dogs sometimes bite!
Overly harsh corrections too may, over time, cause the dog to fear trying new things. Wouldn’t some people react the same way if someone of a higher authority punishes their every wrong step?
Dog Behaviour Problems can be Solved without Using Force
The above said, dog behaviour problems can be solved too, using gentle punishment free dog training methods by teaching the dog an alternative behaviour to replace the offending one. While this may (though not always) take longer than applying compulsion means, many of the problems linked to compulsion training outlined above can be avoided.
Hence given the above, our advice is to bring your dog in for training at the earliest possible time rather than only when there are urgent behaviour issues needing immediate solutions. This way, you will not be pressured for time to find quick fixes and can consider dog friendly alternatives to solving your dog behaviour problems. At Dog Training Singapore, our experienced dog trainers can help with any of your dog training needs. Whether you are looking for puppy training, agililty, dog dancing or dog obedience classes, our trainers, with their impressive track record, can help.