There are many myths and misconceptions about dog training, some of which are broadcast on TV or written in popular books. Do you know the truth?
- You don’t need to worry about being alpha. Dogs don’t need to be rolled over on their backs, approached aggressively, or made to wait while their owners walk through doors in order for dogs to “know their place” or learn respect for their owners. Dogs understand and respect those who treat them with kindness and who behave consistently. Clear-cut, consistent rules make for healthy and happy dog/owner relationships. The Monks of New Skete, who popularized the concept of the alpha roll, have stated they no longer recommend the move as part of regular dog training.
- You don’t need physical “corrections.” Can’t stomach the idea of jerking on a choke chain or using a prong collar to train your dog? Good. You don’t need to and, in fact, you shouldn’t! Physical corrections shut down dogs, leading to fear and confusion. Plus they are no fun for dogs or owners. Reward the behaviors you want to see and ignore those you don’t. Learn to shape your dog to do what you want. Manage your dog’s environment and your dog himself to eliminate problem behaviors. Find the least aversive way to show your dog what you want!
- You don’t need to become a cookie dispenser. Yes, training with food is easy and fun. But your dog can learn to perform behaviors in the absence of rewards as well. (Have you ever seen an agility trial or obedience competition? Many competitive behaviors are taught with food rewards which are then faded from the performance.)
- You can train your dog even if he doesn’t like food treats. Food is an easy and convenient reward but it certainly isn’t the only option. You can reward with anything your dog really likes – a thrown ball, a game of tug, or a bite of lasagna can all work as training rewards!
- Dog training is fun. It’s true! Dog training should be a fun and rewarding activity for you and your dog.