Why do I use only fear free techniques and positive reinforcement?
The different training methods and approaches in the dog training industry can lead to some serious debate and extreme opinions and unfortunately this is often due to ignorance of kinder, more ethical techniques that are actually more effective for long lasting results. I am sure that there aren't many people that want to purposefully hurt their dog but far too many owners are choosing aversive training methods, or selecting trainers that promote such training, such as the use of electronic collars, prong collars or choke chains. I will not deny that these training methods and tools do often show the desired results, however instead of leaning how to appropriately react and respond, these dogs only learn how to minimize pain and punishment. This method of training is often used as it is thought to be a faster method of achieving results, however most owners are unaware of the potential long term negative effects such as causing existing aggression to amplify, increased stress and anxiety, avoidance behaviours, psychological shut down and inappropriate toileting in the home.
Not only do these aversive methods cause physical pain they also cause psychological distress. Instead of instilling confidence, they cause fear which can then be associated to the family member, destroying the bond and relationship. Dogs that are trained using aversive methods can easily be identified as they often show rigid and fearful body language, alongside many other stress signals, when asked to perform a task.
Positive reinforcement training rewards dogs for behaving appropriately, and behaviour that gets reinforced will be repeated. This positive approach to learning teaches dogs to love training, and without fear of pain or punishment they will be willing to try new things, gain confidence in themselves, as well as strengthening their bond to you as their handler and family member. There have been many scientific studies completed that have indicated that dogs trained with positive reinforcement methods retained the learnt behaviours for longer and performed them more consistently than their aversive counterparts, meaning this is a more effective training method for long term change.