I believe in a humane approach to training and do not use physical punishment (no “leash pops”, “choke chains”, “alpha rolls”, “neck jabs” etc.). This does not mean I am permissive—I do expect dogs to follow certain rules, once they understand what is expected and use non-violent consequences to deal with non-compliance. When dogs are misbehaving it is often the result of the humans being unclear about what is expected—dogs are notorious opportunists and will do what works for them.
I don’t subscribe to “dominance theory” between humans and dogs—that we have to show the dogs that we are the “alpha ones” through the use of physical force. In my opinion a lot of this is based on misconstrued and incorrect wolf pack theory—dogs are not wolves and we are not dogs. While important to have an understanding of dog behaviour, we are trying to teach our dogs how to exist in a human world—we aren’t trying to integrate ourselves in a dog world.
I do like our dogs to look to, and defer to us as leaders—there are many nice, non-confrontational methods to achieve this.
While dogs do have a great capacity to learn a wide variety of cued behaviour, they don’t come into the world knowing what is expected.
English is a second language to dogs and “human” is a different culture. It is our job to provide guidance and to set clear boundaries to achieve a healthy relationship.
I prefer to show a dog what is expected then reward when they make a correct choice. I do use treats when initially training a behaviour (dogs, like us enjoy a pay cheque).
This doesn’t mean that for the rest of the dog’s life you need to have a treat pouch strapped to your hip.
I show you how and when to wean a dog off of treats and how to utilize life rewards to encourage good behaviour.
(pictured with Lewis the Beagle)
American Veterinary Society of Animal Behaviour – Position Statement on the Use of Dominance Theory
Association of Professional Dog Trainers – Dominance and Dog Training