Dog training can be simple or complex, depending on what kind of training you want your dog to have. Sit, stay, and lay down are great foundational commands, but your dog can go much further than that! They are exceptionally bright animals that can pick up a wide range of new skills.
And just like humans, they learn in different ways. This implies that not every training technique will be effective for every dog and dog parent.
Good thing there are many dog training techniques you can choose from! Here we listed three styles of dog training and 7 specialised dog training techniques you can use with your dog, and how you can choose which is right for them.
Three Styles of Dog Training
Dominance training is built on the idea that you are the leader of the pack and that your dog is your subordinate.
Positive punishment plays a significant role in dominance training. This can involve giving your dog "corrections" for bad behaviour, including rolling them onto their back and putting them in a submissive position (aka an alpha roll).
Establishing ground rules is also necessary for dominance training, such as leading your dog at all times through doorways and on walks, and only allowing them to eat after you have finished supper and you have given them permission to do so.
Be aware that some trainers who demonstrate alpha/dominance also use positive reinforcement throughout training. There are also trainers who use a mix of positive reinforcement and positive punishment and call it a “balanced approach” or “balanced training”.
The goal of positive reinforcement is to reward good behaviour. This method of training avoids using punishment and only rewards desired actions with treats, praise, and toys. You completely ignore bad behaviours. Your dog eventually learns the desired behaviours that lead to joy, food, and entertainment while minimising the unwanted behaviours that gain them nothing.
Positive reinforcement is proven to be very effective and is the most popular and widely recommended method for teaching a dog cues and behaviours.
Clicker training is the same as positive reinforcement training, but with the use of a clicker— a clicker is a small mechanical noisemaker.
Clicker training is basically signalled positive reinforcement. The clicker is used to signal that the dog has performed the good behaviour and that it's time for a reward.
Behaviourists define negative reinforcement as a training method that uses aversive behaviours or stimuli for the dog.
The trainer removes the aversive stimulus as soon as the dog stops the unwanted behaviour or complies with the trainer's instructions. This is to show to the dog that they only receive unpleasant consequences when they behave inappropriately.
Aversive stimuli don't always include hurting or kicking your dog. It can be a gentle action, but it is always something that your dog dislikes. Like pushing your dog’s behind to make them sit down, then releasing them after the action is done. This is negative reinforcement since dogs don’t want to be forced and held to the floor.
Applying an electronic dog training collar until the dog displays positive behaviour is another example of negative reinforcement. For example, when your dog crosses the invisible fence in your yard, an unpleasant shock comes from the collar around their neck.
The shock stops when they step back from the perimeter. Hopefully, they learn that crossing certain areas leads to an unpleasant situation and it's best to stay away from it.
6 Specialized Dog Training Techniques
Obedience dog training
Basic obedience training should be provided to every dog. This starts out early in life with the most basic instructions, such as sit and stay and drop it. The goal of obedience training is to keep your dog safe and ready for all of life’s experiences.
Obedience training is important because you want to ensure that you can handle your dog when there’s an emergency. Additionally, it's a great way to deepen your relationship with them.
Relationship-based dog training is when you acknowledge your dog's emotions and take them into consideration by giving them orders at levels that are easier for them to understand.
It's important to keep your dog happy and relaxed when training. For instance, you may begin by teaching your dog commands in a place where there are no distractions and wait until they have mastered the command before gradually increasing the difficulty level.
Relationship-based training is about getting to know your dog as a unique individual. The key is to read your dog as you teach them and go at their pace.
Agility training is your training dog through agility courses. They will be moved under, around, and through a variety of obstacles, for good mental and physical stimulation.
Jumping hurdles, sprinting through tunnels, dodging poles, and running up and down teeter-totters are a few of the commonly used obstacles you can use too!
The goal of behavioural training is to assist your dog in unlearning any unwanted behaviours. It is used to stop a variety of behaviours, including digging, excessive barking, biting, unsteady walking, and accidents in the home.
This is ideal for dogs that are currently experiencing these types of behavioural problems as this helps them learn how to behave appropriately, making themselves and your family live much happier.
Model-Rival dog training is when you let your dog watch another dog do a good behaviour and receive a reward. Model-rival training is quite unusual compared to other training techniques, but it's useful in certain settings. The model-rival method makes use of dogs or other people to highlight a lesson.
Science-based training aims to understand dogs, their capacity for training, and the effectiveness of different rewards and punishments.
Since "science-based dog training" is continuously changing and growing, it is hard to describe it, but it basically just means choosing to adopt the most recent, well researched training techniques.
Many trainers consider this as more of an attitude or mindset than a specific training method, similar to the relationship-based training approach.
Do different dog breeds learn differently?
Different dog breeds learn the same
“Do different dog breeds learn differently?” is a question commonly asked by purebred dog pet owners. Animal Behaviour College answered it with a resounding, “No. Different dog Breeds learn the same.”
After training hundreds of dogs, they claimed that each dog was able to learn the same behaviours given the same learning principles. Although a dog's breed can affect his ultimate dog training reward or reveal some aspects of his personality, it has little effect on his capacity to pick up new behaviours.
Instead, assess your dog’s personality
Rather than overthinking the connection of their breed to their learning skills, experts recommended assessing their personality instead.
Understanding your dog's personality may be quite helpful when training and teaching them the behaviours you want to see in them.
And while many believe the preconceived notion that dog’s breeds determine their behaviour, researchers concluded that breed explains only 9 percent of behavioural variation among different dogs. Furthermore, they cannot identify a single behaviour found in all dogs of a certain breed.
In the end, knowing your dog’s personality doesn’t lie on their breed, it’s what they do, and you have to observe closely to be able to see what their personality is.
The right training for different dog personalities
The confident dog
The Confident Dog is a natural born leader who is also capable of working well in a group.These dogs frequently display confidence in their body language and are at ease in both their environment and their own skin.
Training: Even for dogs with the confident personality type, the most effective training method is positive reinforcement. If your dog is super confident, they may be prone to aggression or stubbornness, so avoid being stern or attempting to dominate them back.
The shy dog
The shy dog may be afraid, nervous, insecure, or timid. These dogs dislike uncomfortable circumstances and often behave poorly in chaotic, noisy environments as well as to unexpected or loud noises.
Training: Shy dogs often react positively to calm, kind treatment as well as lots of praise, rewards, and encouragement. They require a lot of reassurance about their safety, and security. If your dog is the shy type, they may become distant and lose faith in you if you are super harsh with them. They need to be introduced to new people, places and experiences at a slower pace than other dogs.
The independent dog
Independent dogs usually have close relationships with one or two humans they see as their leaders, but they are less interested in others.
In fact, they might never form close relationships with others except their family. They may come out as distant since they enjoy spending time alone and away from people.
Training: Training independent dogs may be challenging. Without the right motivation, they would choose to think for themselves rather than follow your instructions. You may need to do some experiments to see what motivates your independent dog—whether it's goodies, attention, or something else. Additionally, it's better to avoid forcing independent dogs to interact with people as this might turn them to be aggressive.
The happy, energetic dog
The laidback, happy dog is your traditional friendly dog who loves to be around people, dogs and even cats. Without any formal training or exercise, they have a tendency to be too enthusiastic and energetic.
Training: Happy, laid-back dogs require training to help keep them from jumping and, generally, to keep their calm around people. Your happy dog will be able to control their eagerness by listening to your commands through obedience training.
The calm, obedient dog
Cooperative and submissive, kind and peaceful, caring and affectionate are all qualities of adaptable dogs. Unlike cheerful dogs, they are always willing to please and will suppress their enthusiasm if it means making their owners happy.
They get along well with other people, dogs, and cats and are sociable and extroverted (but not as much as the joyful dog).
Training: Because they have such a great desire to please, adaptable dogs are the easiest to train out of the five personality types. They are happy to obey their owners' instructions since they regard them as superiors.
Finding the best training strategy for your dog might be difficult, but the results are well worth the effort. You get to live more peacefully and calmly with them, form a stronger relationship, and improve their overall well-being.