As a dog owner, it’s important to understand the various methods available for training your furry friend. Two popular approaches are force-free training and adverse training methods. While both may appear to achieve the desired results on the surface, there are significant differences between the two that can affect the overall well-being and behaviour of your dog.
Force-free training is a modern, scientifically-based approach to dog training that is centred around positive (added) reinforcement. It emphasizes using added reinforcement, such as treats, praise, and affection, to encourage and therefore make more likely to happen in the future, the behaviours that you want to be presented. Force-free trainers will focus on setting your pup up for success so they can train and improve the behaviours that are appropriate and desirable rather than use punishment or otherwise averse methods. The goal is to create a positive, rewarding environment where dogs feel confident and motivated to learn. This method is based on the principles of operant conditioning and behaviourism, which state that behaviours can be shaped and strengthened through positive reinforcement.
Adverse training methods, on the other hand, rely on punishment, intimidation, physical manipulation or otherwise averse methods. This can include physical force (ie. jerking the leash, hitting the dog, or using electronic shock collars), or emotional punishment and intimidation (ie. yelling, ‘bah’, rubbing their nose in a mistake). Adverse training methods are based on the idea that dogs will behave properly if they are afraid of punishment, such as dominance theory-based methods. However, this approach can lead to a breakdown in the trust between the dog and the owner and can cause dogs to become fearful or aggressive which will manifest in different and worse behaviours down the road.
Force-free training has been shown to be more effective in achieving long-term behaviour change, as well as promoting a lasting positive relationship between dogs and their owners. This is because dogs respond better to positive reinforcement than to punishment, and are more likely to continue performing a desired behaviour when they receive reinforcement in response. Moreover, force-free training helps to build a strong bond between dogs and their owners, as dogs feel safe, confident, and secure in their training environment.
On the other hand, adverse training methods can have negative effects on a dog’s mental and physical health, leading to increased anxiety, aggression, and fear. In extreme cases, it can cause permanent damage to the dog’s personality and behaviour. Furthermore, using physical punishment or intimidation to train a dog can erode the bond between the dog and the owner, leading to a less enjoyable and less fulfilling relationship.
In conclusion, force-free training is a modern, effective, and humane approach to dog training that promotes a positive relationship between dogs and their owners. On the other hand, adverse training methods can have negative effects on a dog’s well-being and behaviour and should be avoided. If you’re looking to train your dog, consider using a force-free approach to help you achieve your goals in a positive and enjoyable way.