Let’s talk training methods
As dog trainers and dog owners, we don’t need scientific research to tell us what we already know: Dogs have feelings and emotions, dogs are capable of cognitive processes and that they are deserving of our protection, deserving of individual dignity, and respectful treatment.
As a responsible and caring dog owner you should be concerned about how your dog is handled during its training.
Here at Dog Training of Tampa Bay Inc., we use dog friendly methods, with strong emphasis on Positive Reinforcement
Ivan Balabanov’s reward winning training system “Clear Communication – Training Without Conflict” is a comprehensive learning system that combines effective education methods with immediate results. It allows the dogs to learn with confidence, and retain what they learn so they can be reliable.
We are fluent in every method of teaching, depending on the age, breed of dog and the individual’s personality we create a learning momentum that fully engages the dog through experience and practice.
Every dog learns on their own comfortable pace, but every day is packed with different activities to enhance learning, including games and chill out time with us.
Since we are working One on One with your dog, we have opportunity to swiftly move from lesson to lesson, mix it up with games and other activities. Lessons are always designed to be simple, effective and fun!
During lessons it is logical for the dog to grasps some concepts faster than others, whenever this happens we are able to recognize and continue on, but there are also time when the dog naturally can get “stuck” and we may need to take our time and even change our approach so the dog can “get it”.
Dangerous and Problem Behaviors
What about punishment?
This is the most controversial topic in dog training today. The “all positive trainers” will like you to believe that punishment is ineffective and cruel. Like it or not – Punishment is part of life. We all get punished and when the punishment is effective greatly benefit from it. We all have learned not to stick fingers in electric outlets, not to cross in front of moving vehicle, we know not to keep our fingers at a door that is closing, we know to stay inside when there is lightening or tornado This is where our experience and knowledge are second to none.
Without a doubt, learning that there are certain rules in the house, on the street and in everyday interactions is crucial part of education. Whenever rules are broken (and we all like to brake rules at times) there are certain consequences. Every dog has to understand through experience, that there are good and bad choices. The good choices are reinforced with rewards and the undesired ones are discouraged and suppressed with the use of various levels of pe. For example if You make a driving violation You may get away with a “warning” the first time, but if you persist braking the rules, the level of the punishment will increase until you choose to comply, in some cases the driving license gets suspended for few months and so on.
Positive Reinforcement just like any other approach can fail, for example it is not at all uncommon that the dog may refuse the best treats or toys – simply because the burger on sidewalk is so much “better”, killing that squirrel, attacking the skate boarder, fiercely biting the tier of a moving car, attacking viciously another dog, biting visitors, not coming when called … you get the idea
More often than not, what the dog is doing is far more rewarding to what the owner has to offer.
Differential reinforcement interventions are highly structured versions of “catching ‘em being good” (applying positive reinforcement). Instead of directly punishing the problem behavior to decrease its occurrence. Each differential reinforcement procedure is designed to trick the dog to reduce the occurrence of problem behaviors, while increasing the use of acceptable behaviors. Depending on the procedure selected, rewards will be offered under these conditions:
– differential reinforcement of incompatible behavior (DRI)
-differential reinforcement of alternative behavior (DRA)
-differential reinforcement of other behavior (DRO)
-differential reinforcement of low rates of responding (DRL)
The “All Positive” dog trainers limit themselves to only use such procedures for problem behavior. The success is often limited or completely insufficient, depending on the history and severity of the problem.
Just as it can be difficult to teach a new behavior entirely through the use of punishment, it can be very difficult to suppress problem behavior(s) entirely through the reinforcement of incompatible/other/alternative etc. behavior(s).
In more pronounced cases, these procedures typically take a lot of time and effort (months/years) psychotropic medications are often addition to such treatments.
Whenever the variables maintaining problem behavior cannot be identified or controlled, the success will be limited to “management” at best.
Important here is to understand that if one provides alternative behavior, but does not punish the unwanted behavior, a concurrent schedule of reinforcement would prevail that would be expected to maintain both behaviors at strength proportional to the amount of reinforcement associated with each behavior.
Punishment would be preferable to reinforcement-based treatments when problem behavior must be suppressed rapidly to prevent dangerous outcomes.
One thing dog owners often get mislead to believe is that there is scientific research that points out that Positive Reinforcement is the one and only acceptable option for everything – this is not true!
Reinforcements (Positive or Negative) and Punishments (Positive or Negative) have their advantages and disadvantages, but *overwhelming scientific evidence* points out that punishment is better for suppressing behavior and reinforcement is better for generating behavior.
Therefore, the best formula for suppressing behavior involves reinforcing desirable behavior at the same time that one punishes undesirable behavior. Punishment in most instances is most effective when an alternative reinforced behavior that is not punished is available.
In past years, many psychologists have recommended that punishment not be employed or else be employed with great caution because of the existence of various drawbacks or side effects (Azrin & Holz, 1966; Skinner, 1953). However, a close examination of recent work in the area of punishment suggests that punishment can be safely employed in a wide range of settings provided basic rules of sound practice are followed.
For example, several researchers have reported that electric shock used to suppress self-destructive behavior in retarded children sometimes is associated with increases in such desirable behavior as at tentiveness, increased physical contact with the experimenter, and increased smiling at the experimenter, and a decrease in such undesirable behavior as whining and fussing. Foxx and Azrin also report an increase in attentiveness and social interaction when overcorrection was employed to suppress aggressive behavior. In other studies, the suppression of self-stimulation through punishment has led to a spontaneous increase in play behavior and improved learning (Koegel , Covert), These observations are consistent with the reports that the effectiveness of electric shock in reducing problem behaviors tends to be associated with a wealth of positive side effects (Linscheid, Matson, Taras) and that the positive side effects tend to far outnumber any negative side effects associated with electric collar (Salvy; Linscheid, Pejeau, Cohen, Footo-Lenz; Taras; Carr & Lovaas).
We can provide an extensive list of peer reviewed research studies and talk to you in person if needed.
What training equipment is humane?
We have 30+ years of knowledge and understand that different tools have their own purpose. Using a knife to unscrew a screw instead of the appropriate size screwdriver can lead to damaging the screw and the knife. All dog training equipment has it’s own valuable place in the tool box. The idea behind so many different training collars for example can be pure marketing ( the pet stores want you to buy more “stuff”) but ultimately as expert dog trainers we know which tool is best in which situation for the best outcome possible. We are not restricted by an ideology and believe that dog’s well being is more important than giving up. Just like every surgical, dental, and other medical treatment has some risks, the amount of positive changes outweighs the risks associated with the procedures.
As the owner of your dog, if you are reluctant or completely against the use of certain tool or method please let us know so we can address this in person! if we feel that your dog is not improving (problematic/dangerous behavior remains) under the training plan of your choice, then we will re-evaluate the options and discuss if there are any benefits from adding certain approach or training equipment. In such case You will be made aware and we will ask for your permission to proceed or not.