Positive Reinforcement Has Its Limitations

Did I ever tell you I think of myself as a positive guy?

Seriously. My bookshelf is loaded with books by Zig Ziglar, Norman Vincent Peale, W. Clement Stone, Napoleon Hill, Dr. Wayne Dyer and many more.

When it comes to dog training I have read all the books by the trainers that consider themselves “all positive trainers” and if you were to hire me we would spend about 98% of the training using positive reinforcement.


…..at some point we would probably introduce and use a negative consequence in your training.

So why would a super positive, friendly and handsome guy like me use a negative consequence in training?

As much as I would like to tell you dog training is all sunshine and rainbows, as much as I would like to tell you that cookies and praise can solve all your problems, if I did that I would consider myself as extremely unethical and a DANGER to the dog training profession.

I can’t do that because I take my profession very seriously and know that the difference between a dog living and dying often hinges on the training that is accomplished.

A dog that fails the recall (come when called) could run into the street and get killed. A dog that ignores the boundaries of the yard could walk right into the path of an oncoming truck.

A dog that does not stop jumping when guests come to the house could end up in a shelter and I’ve seen it happen more times than I can count.

So while I’d like to tell you that behavior problems can be solved with a clicker and a bag of treats, I would be offering incompetent advice.

The correct and most effective way to stop an unwanted behavior is to apply a negative consequence as the behavior occurs. Done correctly you can often get dramatic results in a very short period of time.

Or you can follow the advice of the cookie crowd and spend years ignoring, redirecting or managing behaviors that you’d like to see disappear.

I know this reads like a pretty negative message but someone has to tell it to you straight. And I would much rather be upfront and honest with you about dog training than shovel some load of B.S. about positive reinforcement solving all of your dog training problems – which is FALSE and opinionated ideology that could get your dog injured or worse.

Anyway, the conversation continues over at the Dog Training Inner Circle where you can become a member for just $1.00.



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