If you look at the variety of dog trainers and dog training methods present on this globe, your head may start spinning from the variety of choices. There are clicker trainers, old-balanced trainers, compulsion-based trainers, cross-over trainers and many more. Which one to choose? Shedding some light on what these terms really mean may help pave the path towards the right type of trainer to assist you with your dog’s training needs.
When looking for a good trainer, knowledge is power. Don’t be fooled by a flashy website and trainers spreading business cards everywhere. What truly differentiates one trainer from another is the level of expertise in learning theory and dog behavior, strong people skills and history of helping dogs and their owners. A good dog trainer knows for a fact that dog training takes time and the main focus should be to make the learning process easy, fun and rewarding. Following is a list of some types of dog trainers.
Clicker trainers mainly use a clicking device known as a clicker. Dogs that are clicker trained are eager to learn, like to offer behaviors and have lots of enthusiasm. Clicker training relies on positive reinforcement. The desired behavior the dog offers voluntarily is basically marked with a clicker and followed by a reward. Clicker training can be used also for behavior modification; indeed, since wanted behaviors are rewarded, dogs tend to repeat them over time, while unwanted behaviors tend to extinguish.
These trainers use positive reinforcement as their main quadrant of choice when it comes to training dogs. Positive trainers train force-free, therefore, they tend to object to the use of compulsion and the use of aversion-based tools such as choke collars, prong collars, and electronic collars.
Compulsion trainers often look for fast ways to train dogs and tend to rely heavily on corrections. Their philosophy is that dogs must be shown who is boss, which is known as “alpha theory”. Compulsion trainers train mostly using positive punishment and negative reinforcement. Their preferred tools are choke collars, prongs, and electronic collars.
Balanced trainers feel the need to reward behaviors that are wanted and correct behaviors that are unwanted. Therefore, they have a mix of tools in their training tool boxes and mix and match different training methods. These trainers use all four quadrants of training: positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment and negative punishment.
Crossover trainers are simply trainers who have decided to make the leap from the compulsion to positive training.
As seen, there are quite a lot of theories and training methods when it comes to training dogs. Find a reputable dog trainer with several years of experience, good reviews and a great love to train dogs and teach humans. And remember: training takes time, and most of all, should be fun!