Why Choose a Balanced Trainer
Balanced training is the practice of utilizing a variety of methods to train dogs, taking into account each individual dog’s needs. With balanced training, trainers can work with sensitive dogs who work best with positive reinforcement as well as those who do not respond to treats or other forms of bribery.
A major benefit of balanced training is its versatility – from puppy manners to aggression, from off leash reliability to dog reactivity, trained professionals are able to assess and appropriately address these diverse behaviors without bias.
What About Positive Reinforcement Training?
Precision K9 Training believes in and emphasizes the use of positive reinforcement in training, as we recognize that dogs (and people!) learn best when having fun. We will only introduce corrections in dangerous situations or once a dog completely understands the behavior being addressed.
Our methods rely heavily on positive reinforcement techniques, yet these approaches cannot fix every issue. These methods attempt to teach alternative behaviors or ignore negative behaviors by hoping they disappear; however, many force-free trainers claiming to be science-based actually only take one part of the puzzle without considering the rest, resulting in a partial understanding of the dog’s needs.
Though this may seem perfect in theory, dogs need consequences for their actions and failure to set expectations and boundaries can lead to dangerous behaviors such as biting people and chasing cars. Clear expectations are essential for ensuring success with canine learning.
Well-Balanced Dogs Come From Balanced Training
Balanced training means taking a holistic approach to dog training, considering not only the individual methods and strategies at hand, but also the science of learning theory and all four of the quadrants of operant conditioning: Positive Reinforcement, Positive Punishment, Negative Reinforcement, and Negative Punishment. Using this approach allows trainers to better look at each dog as an individual, understanding how they learn in order to more effectively reach their behavioral goals.
The “Four Quadrants” Explained
A balanced trainer will use all four quadrants of operant conditioning – Positive Reinforcement, Positive Punishment, Negative Reinforcement, and Negative Punishment – to reach the goal of clear communication and a strong relationship with their dog.
Positive Reinforcement encourages an action by adding stimulus; for example, a trainer may give a dog a treat or toy after it has successfully followed the command to sit.
Positive Punishment decreases the motivation to ignore a command by adding stimulus; e.g., if the dog does not obey the command, they may be given a leash correction.
Negative Reinforcement reinforces an action by taking away stimulus; i.e., applying upward pressure on the leash until the dog sits, then removing it when they do so.
Finally, Negative Punishment decreases motivation to ignore commands by taking away stimulus; e.g., withholding treats from the pet when they don’t obey.
The Famous Toolbox
You may be able to use a hammer for many projects, but it’s important to have a variety of tools in your toolbox. A trainer’s “toolbox” refers to the different methods and approaches they gain through knowledge and understanding. When you possess more options, you’re able to come up with better solutions if the traditional method doesn’t work. Having a limited number of tools will constrain the potential outcomes of any situation.
Is Balanced Training Abusive?
At Precision K9 Training, we don’t believe that any single training method is necessarily abusive. However, any training approach can be misused. That’s why we only administer the minimal level of force or correction that’s needed for each individual dog and situation. Many dogs don’t even need corrections! We definitely don’t subscribe to a ‘yank and crank’ method to get the dog to obey. We never use fear or intimidation to train our dogs; rather, clear communication is at the heart of what we do. Our goal is to have our dogs work with us instead of for us — partners in every sense!
What Advice Can You Give On the Best Training Resources to Use?
Training is not a cookie-cutter solution. We may offer different techniques, yet there is no single tool (apart from a leash) that works for all dogs or households. Our advice is always tailored to the individual dog and the owner’s ability to skillfully handle them. We provide support and guidance on how to appropriately use each tool according to its specific context and whether it can be put into practice in certain scenarios.