A Brief History Of Positive Dog Training

A Brief History Of Positive Dog Training:

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Summary:

Dog training has undergone tremendous changes since the 60s. Researchers such as Scott and Fuller, and Pfaffenberger changed the way people perceived their canine companions and caused many of the old training methods to be questioned.

Dog training has undergone tremendous changes since the 60s. Researchers such as Scott and Fuller, and Pfaffenberger changed the way people perceived their canine companions and caused many of the old training methods to be questioned. In addition, trainers of captive sea mammals began to promote their training methods for use in dogs. These "sea world" trainers had been using food as a training method to lure and reward behaviors and teach tricks to please the crowds. Since no one can force a killer whale or a dolphin to perform using a collar and leash or any form of punishment, these trainers had to find other ways to get the cooperation of these intelligent animals!

During this time, dog and horse trainers were still primarily using force and punishment to train. These trainers were not cruel people, and the methods used were thought to be the only way to train. Most trainers would not waste time trying to lure a dog into a seat when a good push on the butt and a quick jerk on the collar would do the trick. In fact, most trainers of the day frowned on using food as a lure/reward. The only dog trainers who were routinely using food to train were the show dog handlers, and they were pretty happy with the result--an alert, happy dog who was excited to do what the handler wanted. Unfortunately, it would be a while before the experiences of the show dog trainers and the dolphin trainers would be accepted. Even those who used positive reinforcement (food or toys) to train their show dogs never used it to train for the obedience ring! Such things were strictly forbidden in a sport that had its roots in the military, so obedience trainers continued to use collar corrections and physical force to train. It was also common not to start training a dog until they were at least 6 months old and many bad habits had been formed. Part of the reason for waiting until the dog was older was so they could handle the harsher methods. (Now we know that training should start as early as possible, and with positive methods, there is no reason to wait!)

It wasn't long before a growing group of trainers began to see how much more quickly and easily good results could be obtained using positive reinforcement instead of force and punishment. Soon positive training methods became the gold standard, and today it would be difficult to find a trainer who isn't using positive/reward-based training for most or all of his training program.


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