Bravo Dog Training
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Training Methods

Dog training methods have changed greatly over the past 20 years.  Dog training used to be done with a heavy hand – “compulsion” training involved forcing a dog to comply with commands.  For example, to get a dog to sit the trainer would pull up on the dog’s collar and push down on his back end while commanding “Sit!”  It wasn’t much fun for the owners, and even less enjoyable for the dogs.  Fortunately there are better options, and compulsion trainers are much less common.

Most training is now done with positive motivation. In general terms that describes training that focuses on rewarding a dog for good behavior.  All instruction at Bravo Dog Training focuses on positive motivation.

Positive motivation is usually accomplished by training with food (see the article The Treat Trap: Training with Food for more information on common concerns

 
 
There are several ways that positive motivation training can be accomplished, the most common are “lure/reward training and “shaping.”  Lure/reward training involves using food to get the dog to perform for you – for example, to get a dog to sit the trainer would hold a treat above the dog’s head, moving slowly back.  As the dog looks up, their rear end goes down.  Once the dog is sitting the piece of food that was used to lure them is offered as their reward.  Shaping is the process of marking and rewarding behaviors as they get closer and closer to what you would like the dog to do.  Unlike luring, the food reward is offered only after the dog has performed, not before.  For example, if you wanted your dog to jump through a hula-hoop you might first reward the dog for going near the hoop, then for putting its head through, then for walking through the hoop on the floor, and eventually for going through the hoop as it is raised higher off the ground. 

Both lure/reward training and shaping are made more effective (read: faster training!) by the use of a marker.  A marker is anything that tells the dog clearly the instant he has done something you like.  Markers help a dog understand what you are looking for, as well as helping to bridge the time between a good behavior and the reward.  A marker can be a tool, such as a clicker, or something verbal, such as the word “yes!”

Training with positive motivation does not mean you can never tell your dog “no.”  There are circumstances where "negative reinforcement" may be appropriate, as long as it is done fairly and properly.  Physical force, “alpha rolling,” intimidation or harsh corrections are never used. 

Good dog trainers know that no two dogs are alike, and that with every dog comes a unique dynamic of genetics, experiences, relationships and temperament.  You brought a dog into your life to enjoy it; training should be fun and effective for both of you.

Bravo Dog Training .  Portland, Oregon  .  503-686-5890  .  info@mybravodog.com
about training with food) or something else the dog finds rewarding.  We get paid for going to work, and it makes sense that our dogs would appreciate the same.