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The Truth About Dog Training


Part 1

Purely Positive Training (aka: Reinforcement Based Training)

Purely positive dog training, also known as positive reinforcement based training or force free training,
focuses solely on rewarding desired behaviors while avoiding any form of punishment or correction. This approach relies heavily on treats, praise, and other rewards to motivate and shape a dog's behavior.


While positive reinforcement training can be effective in certain situations, it has faced criticism and decreased in popularity since the 1990s for several reasons.

  • Ineffective in addressing all behaviors: Purely positive training techniques may struggle to effectively address certain behaviors, especially those that are driven by instinct or rooted in fear or aggression. While positive reinforcement can be successful in teaching basic obedience commands or tricks, it may not provide sufficient guidance or correction for behaviors that require more nuanced training approaches.

  • Failure to establish boundaries and rules: Dogs thrive when they have clear boundaries and understand what is expected of them. Purely positive training may struggle to establish consistent rules and boundaries, as it primarily focuses on rewarding desired behaviors without providing clear consequences for unwanted behaviors. Without proper guidance, dogs may become confused about what is acceptable behavior, potentially leading to frustration, anxiety, or even aggression.

  • Lack of control in emergency situations: In certain situations, such as when a dog's safety or the safety of others is at risk, purely positive training techniques may not provide the necessary control or immediate response. For instance, if a dog is charging towards a busy road, relying solely on positive reinforcement to redirect the behavior may not be effective or timely enough to prevent a potential disaster.

  • Ignoring natural canine pack dynamics: Dogs are social animals with an inherent understanding of pack dynamics. Purely positive training may overlook the importance of establishing leadership and clear communication between the dog and its owner. Without providing consistent guidance and clear expectations, dogs may develop behavioral issues related to a lack of structure or a sense of insecurity.

  • Potential reinforcement of unwanted behaviors: Over-reliance on positive reinforcement without adequate correction can inadvertently reinforce or reward unwanted behaviors. For example, if a dog jumps on people and receives attention or treats as a result, they may continue the behavior despite attempts to redirect or discourage it.

  • Advancements in understanding canine behavior: Since the 1990s, there have been significant advancements in our understanding of canine behavior and learning theory. This has led to the development and popularity of more balanced training approaches that incorporate positive reinforcement along with appropriate and humane corrective measures. These approaches aim to address a wider range of behaviors and provide a more holistic and effective training experience for dogs.

Part 2

Balanced Training: The Most Modern Dog Training Methodology

Balanced training refers to a training approach for dogs that combines positive reinforcement techniques with appropriate and humane corrective measures. The aim of balanced training is to establish clear communication with the dog, reinforce desired behaviors, and discourage unwanted behaviors. This approach takes into account the individual needs and temperament of each dog. The effectiveness and suitability of different dog training approaches can vary depending on individual dogs, their temperaments, and the specific behaviors being addressed. While purely positive training has its merits, balanced training has gained popularity as a more comprehensive and effective approach in recent years.


Here's why balanced training is considered a newer and more modern form of dog training, and why it is often regarded as the best approach:

  • Comprehensive approach: Balanced training incorporates a range of training techniques and methods, including positive reinforcement, appropriate corrections, and clear communication. It takes into account the dog's individual needs, behavior issues, and desired outcomes. By utilizing a variety of tools and strategies, balanced training offers a more comprehensive and flexible approach to address a wide range of behaviors effectively.

  • Individualized training: Every dog is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Balanced training recognizes the importance of tailoring the training approach to the specific dog, considering their personality, temperament, and learning style. This individualized approach ensures that training methods are customized to address the specific needs and challenges of each dog, resulting in more successful outcomes.

  • Focus on clear communication: Balanced training emphasizes the establishment of clear communication between the dog and the owner. It ensures that the dog understands the desired behaviors and expectations through consistent guidance, boundaries, and reinforcement. Clear communication builds trust, strengthens the bond between the dog and owner, and fosters a harmonious relationship based on understanding and respect.

  • Addressing underlying issues: Many behavior problems in dogs have underlying causes, such as fear, anxiety, or lack of socialization. Balanced training focuses on identifying and addressing these root causes, going beyond simply managing symptoms. By providing desensitization, counterconditioning, or other appropriate techniques, balanced training helps dogs overcome their underlying issues, leading to long-term behavior improvement.

  • Safety and control: Balanced training recognizes the importance of maintaining safety and control in various situations. While positive reinforcement is valuable for teaching desired behaviors, there may be instances where immediate intervention or redirection is necessary to ensure the safety of the dog and others. Balanced training incorporates appropriate corrective measures when needed to address and modify unwanted behaviors effectively.

  • Advances in behavioral science: Over time, our understanding of canine behavior and learning theory has evolved. Balanced training incorporates these advances in behavioral science, incorporating evidence-based practices and modern techniques. It leverages scientific knowledge to provide a more effective and efficient training experience for dogs, resulting in faster and more reliable behavior modification.

  • Practicality and real-world application: Balanced training focuses on preparing dogs for real-life situations and environments. It equips them with the skills and behaviors needed to navigate various scenarios, such as walking on a leash, interacting with other dogs or people, and handling distractions. By incorporating real-world training exercises, balanced training ensures that dogs are well-prepared to handle everyday situations and challenges.

  • Clear boundaries and structure: Balanced training emphasizes the establishment of clear boundaries and structure within the dog's daily routine. Dogs thrive when they have consistent rules and expectations, as it provides them with a sense of security and reduces anxiety. By setting boundaries and enforcing them consistently, dogs learn what is expected of them and are less likely to resort to aggressive behavior out of confusion or frustration.

  • Positive reinforcement for desirable behavior: Balanced training places a strong emphasis on positive reinforcement, which involves rewarding the dog for exhibiting desired behaviors. Dogs are more likely to repeat behaviors that lead to positive outcomes. By using treats, praise, or other rewards to reinforce non-aggressive behaviors, dogs learn alternative ways to respond to situations that would otherwise trigger aggression.

  • Appropriate use of corrective measures: While positive reinforcement forms the foundation of balanced training, it also incorporates humane corrective measures when necessary. These corrective measures are used sparingly and with proper timing, and they aim to interrupt or redirect the dog's unwanted behavior without causing harm. For example, a corrective collar or leash correction may be used to redirect the dog's attention and discourage aggressive behaviors, teaching them that such behavior is not acceptable.

It is important to note that balanced training should always be carried out by experienced and knowledgeable trainers who prioritize the well-being of the dog. Training techniques should be tailored to the individual dog and implemented in a humane and compassionate manner. By providing structure, positive reinforcement, addressing underlying causes, and using appropriate corrective measures, balanced training can effectively decrease aggression in dogs and promote more harmonious and safe interactions with their environment and other individuals.

The best approach to dog training ultimately depends on the specific dog, the desired outcomes, and the trainer's expertise. By embracing a balanced training approach that combines positive reinforcement, clear communication, appropriate corrections, effective use of tools such as E-Collars and Prong Collars, and individualized techniques, dog owners and trainers can effectively address behavior issues, build a strong bond, and promote the overall well-being of their canine companions.

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