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Benefits of Training Dogs Using Positive Methods: Kindness Turns Out to Be the Best Way to Train Dogs

Humans and canines, two diverse species, yet similar in many ways, have shared a good part of history. The purpose of this incredibly long friendship has been mainly attributed to the mutual benefits derived from helping each other out. Men on one side have used dogs to hunt, herd and guard, whereas, dogs have appreciated human companionship because of the possibility for a few scraps of food, shelter, and the warmth of a crackling fire.

Yet, humans often have not acted appreciative in regards to the unconditional love and level of devotion the canine nature is equipped with. Often, humans throughout history have treated dogs in inhumane ways such as forcing dogs to submit even using brutal training methods.

These negative training methods have often ruled for years, but only recently men have started to notice that kinder training methods revolving around positive reinforcement, have been capable of producing better-trained dog and dogs with an eagerness to please, this time not out of fear, but rather as a natural response to positive approaches.

Why Negative Methods May not Work

Negative methods interfere with training and the bonding process which takes place when humans and dogs work together. Most negative training methods indeed tend to rely mostly on causing fear or at least some level of displeasure. Not only negative training methods may also create grounds for unwanted associations.

For example, an owner of a dog that acts aggressively towards strangers, growling and lunging towards them, may decide to pull decisively on the leash when the dog misbehaves or may even decide to adopt a prong collar, often under the advice of a dog trainer, to make the corrections more 'intense'.

Next time the dog encounters the stranger, therefore, the dog will not only feel threatened because of the presence of the stranger, but he will also feel discomfort and pain on top of that. The logical conclusion? The dog will feel that strangers are not only a threat but now even a cause of pain. While his lunging/growling/barking behavior may gradually extinguish with time, often the root of the problem is not addressed.

Owners therefore may ultimately end up dealing with a dog that no longer lunges/growls/barks but that decides to upgrade instead to a bite next time a stranger gets too near. Indeed, the dog has learned to bury all his warning signals which consisted of lunging/ growling/ barking, and has unexpectedly gone to the next level. This is something that typically takes place when owners refrain from addressing issues in-depth and only see the 'tip of the iceberg'.

One important consideration that owners may not keep in mind, is that often what appears to be aggressive behavior is fear-based behavior. So dogs that act aggressively towards strangers, may simply fear them and bark and growl out of what is known as 'fear aggression.

In this scenario, therefore negative methods may be deleterious to a dog's social life. A dog that fears strangers and starts feeling pain every time a stranger is approaching will only learn to fear strangers even more! What is therefore left to do? The good news is that there are better approaches that revolve around positive and friendlier training methods.

Why Positive Methods Work

Positive methods work because they rely on gentle methods to which dogs seem to better respond. Positive methods often involve treats, vocal praise, friendly touch, and the use of a clicker. In positive training methods often bad behaviors are ignored while good ones are praised. This brings out the best behaviors in dogs.

One important consideration to keep in mind when using positive reinforcement methods is timing. According to Positivedogtraining.org, for positive reinforcement to work well, the owner must reward at the right time. If an owner teaches a dog to sit and rewards the dog when it gets up, the dog will become confused and think that to get the treatment it must get up from the sit.

Back to the previous scenario, where the dog growls and barks when strangers approach, the use of positive training will very likely deliver good results and leave a long-lasting impression based on positive notes. All it takes is to gather a few volunteers and equip them with some treats.

Most dogs respond to a threat when at a certain distance. To start, therefore, the owner must figure out the dog's comfort zone, the distance at which it does not react to strangers. Once this distance is figured out, the stranger passing by must observe the dog's behavior. Every time the dog does not react, a treat is tossed.

It does not take long for the dog to realize that each time a stranger approaches, something good happens. Slowly and with lots of practice, the dog should gradually increase its comfort zone and be less likely to growl. A time may even come where the dog may be seen wagging its tail every time a stranger approaches! This is one of the magic marvels of positive training methods. There are many other happy stories as such, thanks to gentle methods.

More and more dog training schools focus on gentle training methods and advertise them with pride. Indeed, dogs trained with positive training methods appear to respond to commands with more enthusiasm and eagerness. These methods also create the grounds for better dog/owner relationships. After all, looking at it from a human point of view, haven't some kids grown up to hate and fear that middle school teacher that used to scream all day long? The same goes in the dog's mind.

About the Author: 

Nicholas H. Parker is a content editor at the service where you can buy essay online. He used to manage the content team at the company he worked for. Currently, Nicholas writes articles to share his knowledge with others and obtain new skills. Besides, he is highly interested in the web design sphere.

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