Why Positive Reinforcement Alone Will Not Stop Your Dogs Behavioral Issues
Positive Reinforcement alone vs. Balanced training methods
One of the biggest questions I receive all the time is why would I use prong collars, ecollars, or anything else when I could just use positive reinforcement with my dog. Before we answer the question we have to establish a few things first here.
First, using a prong collar or an ecollar on your dog does NOT mean that you can not use a clicker and food or any other form of positive reinforcement training that you would like. Actually, most of the top trainers in the world that use these tools are some of the most skilled trainers in teaching behaviors with positive reinforcement. We refer to these types of trainers as "balanced trainers". This means utilizing all 4 quadrants of learning. Positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment, and negative punishment. This is the type of trainer I categorize myself and my trainers as.
So why do we utilize these methods? Why not just use treats to solve all of our dogs issues and teach them to be the best that they can be? Wouldn't that be fantastic?! Of course it would! Most people that are against positive reinforcement don't understand that thats what everyone would like to do!! Training our dogs with food is fun, its engaging, and it builds a fantastic relationship with your dog. If it truly worked alone in creating the results that we all want with our dog they would have the entire dog training industry monopolized.
But here's the catch. It doesn't.
It's important to realize a couple of things about positive reinforcement. First and foremost, it is the leading cause of behavioral issues in dogs. Most behaviors that your dogs do are incredibly self reinforcing. Your dog jumps on the counter to grab a steak. Positive reinforcement caused that. Your dog barks at the neighbors dog. Positive reinforcement caused that. Your dog chases deer our on a hike. Positive reinforcement caused that. All of these behaviors are reinforced by the outcome of what happens when they do them. And unfortunately, a lot of these are so heavily reinforced that no matter how many treats you put in your dogs face they are going to want that reinforcer more than that food.
So heres the cool part.
Learning theory is a beautiful thing. That means learning through consequences. Both good and bad. It's how humans learn and how dogs learn. It is a universal language. And it doesn't always have to be harsh and cruel!
Modern day remote collar training or prong collar training is intended to be incredibly conflict free. And when you pair these methods with all of the GREAT things that positive reinforcement can offer you got yourself a REALLY capable means of training your dog. These tools and methods will give you the freedom to not only train your dog, but to enjoy your dog to the fullest by actually stopping the behavioral issues that are limiting your dogs ability to be a dog and teaching them a new way of life. By giving them the ability to be fully integrated into YOUR life.
So please can an open mind about all of this. Do your research when looking for a trainer. You can accomplish far more than you think with the right methods!