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Why I promote force free training

It’s been an amazing start to 2016 and I can’t thank you enough for your support. There have been a lot of Kennel Club Good Citizen Dog Scheme achievements already this year, which is fab!

Puppy Foundation Graduates : Cooper, Millie, Peppa, Bobby, Busby, Maxxi, Poppy, Ted, Hector, Oliver, Oscar, Poppy, Reggie, Alfie, Darwin, Jazz, Milo & Tara.

Bronze Award : Billy & Doreen, Poppy & Linda, Popopy & Lynne, Chester & Keith, Harvey & Charlotte, Hugo & Craig, Ellie & Claire, Jess & Gillian, Tess & Norma, Tux & Steve and Shannah & Ralfie.

Silver Award : Alfie & Lesley and Harvey & Christy

I’m often asked what training methods I use and, sometimes, why I opt to train this way. So, I thought that in updating the blog I’d also explain why I do what I do!

In my opinion, any kind of training should be fun for both dog and handler. I use proven, science based positive methods to teach my clients to train their dogs. In using these methods, we build and maintain a positive relationship with the dog that’s based on trust rather than pain and fear. I discourage the use of punishment methods as I want to show people how to understand their dogs and why they act the way they do, so I can help solve their problems in a thorough manner without solving one issue whilst creating several more. The more traditional and aversive methods are outdated in the same way that giving school children the cane is no longer a part of their school experience!

At Rixton, we do not condone physical punishment as it is very extreme and can escalate to abuse as well as resulting in the dog becoming extremely shy, aggressive or fearful. Punishing a dog for something when we don’t know or understand why it’s happening, or the emotional state of the dog at the time, could serve to make things worse. Techniques using negative reinforcement and positive punishment can suffer side effects such as the offering of other behaviours, which can be worse than the one which aversive techniques were used to stop.

I use lure and reward based clicker training, which is a training method that relies on marking (click) then rewarding (treat) a wanted behaviour. The ‘click’ is a clear and effective form of communication that tells the dog they’re doing the right thing as it is a distinct noise that provides a consistent and emotion free marker, which means that your dog always receives the same information. Because the dog understands exactly what action earned the click then treat, he’s going to learn new behaviours enthusiastically, quickly and easily. It’s essential to remember that both dogs and handlers will learn faster and retain what they’ve learned if they’re relaxed and not under stress

*now for the science bit!*

Edward Thorndike once stated that a behaviour that’s followed by a positive consequence is likely to be repeated, whereas a behaviour that’s followed by an unpleasant or negative consequence is less likely to be repeated. He referred to this as the “Law of effect” and this is the theory of learning.

The old saying of ‘carrot and stick’ is certainly at the forefront of today’s blog, with me clearly favouring the good old carrot ( and not just because carrots are awesome for your pup during teething time – which I’ll touch on next time!)

So, on that note (& for fear of boring you!) I'd like to thank you for reading and I'll now leave you to enjoy this winters day and I'll head out with my boys!


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