Better Way of Training

The newer approach to training considers the animal’s motivations for learning, their comprehension, and the incremental steps for learning. The philosophy is simple and direct.

Keys to Modifying Behavior

Modification is surprisingly simple and easy at least for the pet. Animals do what is rewarding to them. We can change their behavior by no longer rewarding inappropriate ones and rewarding those which we deem appropriate. The challenge is human involvement because it requires observation and modifying our own habits when pets are around. As a result, we are always communicating so every interaction we have with the pet is a training session.

Learn to Lead – Like a Partner in a Dance

Once we approach behavior modification in this manner, we realize training is like a dance. When partners dance as a couple, one leads and the other follows. The leader decides which steps to perform and then guides his partner clearly so the partner can follow.

Training animals requires an understanding of the big dance and an ability to break the movements down into little steps. Little differences in movement can make big differences in behavior. We convey this to the animal through our body language and perfectly timed rewards. We set rules by rewarding good behaviors and removing rewards for inappropriate behavior. Good behavior will become a habit.

The use of punishment and an animal’s emotional state

Training also needs to address the underlying emotional state. If an animal is fearful, a leader who “dominates” will not change the emotions.

The use of force in training can cause animals to seem stubborn and willful when they are actually frustrated and confused. They will have little motivation to perform the commanded behaviors other than the desire to avoid fear and pain. Punishment does not take into consideration the motivation of the animal nor does it tell them what they should be doing. Instead, punishment just tells them what they should not be doing.
The purpose of force in most cases is to stop a behavior. Overall, force suppresses behavior only temporarily, especially when the animal is not rewarded for appropriate behaviors, nor does it address the underlying emotional state.

Humans fall back on punishment because it is easier to react in the moment to a problem than to think about how to prevent the problem instead. Instead, be proactive and remove the “punishment” crutch.