Yesterday, I was asked by an experienced dog person (a former breeder) if I am one of those “treat, treat, treat” trainers.
Of course, this started a discussion on training methods. I was astounded at many people’s beliefs in all the myths about dogs out there and what people are taking as truth without really thinking it through, even among people who know a lot about dogs and have been involved with them for years.
My explanation of WHY I use treats was this: Besides the fact that corrections hurt or frighten the dog, I cannot guarantee that a person I have taught using aversive methods to train is not going to get upset and punish the dog unnecessarily. I cannot prevent the use of corrections in anger. Since I am a cross-over training instructor and dog trainer, I have used and taught these methods in the past, BUT NO LONGER.
If you think logically, using corrections to train makes it easier to punish the dog by hurting it. However, by using the clicker and food rewards I can achieve the EXACT SAME RESULT without bringing corrections into the training. Therefore, I eliminate anger in my training and end up building a great relationship with my dog.
The other logical part of this is that even though you CAN achieve the same results with food rewards as with corrections, many people still don’t think you can do this.
THE REASON FOR THIS IS that a person simply does not want to train with food.
If you don’t want to train with food, then you won’t achieve the results.
If you want to train with food rewards you WILL and can do just as well as with using the correction methods. I use my own achievement record as an example, which is part of the reason I go into dog sport trials, besides it being fun – to show that it CAN be done – and it CAN.
My dogs and I have shown that one can train for the sports of obedience, rally-o and disc dog exclusively with force free training and still win. The point is not just to win, but to show that it can be done. We also train in sledding and stockdog without corrections and have not been in any trials or competitions, but enjoy it a great deal.
I have also had success putting force free dog sport titles on rescued dogs with behaviour issues. I find that dogs with fear issues are very responsive to clicker/food reward training.
The whole thing is simply a matter of desire.
Each person has the right to make a CHOICE in how she/he trains a dog. If you want to train with corrections then do so. But PLEASE STOP SAYING THAT TRAINING WITH FOOD REWARDS DOESN”T WORK BECAUSE YOU ARE WRONG.
If it doesn’t work it is simply your choice to not have it work. Both methods work – IF YOU WANT THEM TO WORK.
DO THE WORK – GET THE RESULTS
People use to say that no one would get to the moon. But it happened nevertheless. The same goes for dog training.