It is important for those who live and work with dogs to have an understanding of basic behavioral science. Bearing this in mind, here are just a few examples of positive reinforcement training protocols that may be used in place of aversive methods*:
- Rather than waiting for a dog to make a mistake so you can punish him, reinforce behavior you like to help the dog learn and so both parties feel more positive about the relationship.
- Rather than using a choke chain or prong collar which rely on punishing undesirable behavior, use targeting and a harness to train and reinforce good behavior while, at the same time, ensuring less trauma to the dog’s neck.
- Rather than positively punishing a dog for jumping on visitors at the door, train him to “go to mat,” “sit,” or “four on the floor” and reinforce nonjumping behavior.
- Rather than using an electric fence or punishing a dog for crossing boundaries, e.g., on your property, teach him about boundaries and reinforce him for staying within the boundary.
- Rather than positively punishing a growl, learn to read a dog’s body language and evaluate the situation to better understand what he is trying to say.
- Rather than positively punishing a dog for stealing something such as a shoe or something from the trash, teach him to exchange or swap and reinforce the exchange.
- Rather than positively punishing a dog for being on the furniture (if you do not want him there – this is a personal preference), target or lure him down and reinforce him for being on his bed next to you.
- Rather than positively punishing a dog for what you consider poor behavior, reconsider your expectations of him and whether they are realistic. Consider what alternative behaviors you can train instead. If you are not sure, seek more information from an appropriate source.
- Rather than positively punishing a dog for not returning to you when called (i.e., in his eyes, giving up his freedom), teach him that it is valuable and worthwhile to come back to you and that it may not mean his freedom is restricted at all.
- Rather than put all the responsibility for the dog’s behavior on the dog, take it upon yourself to teach him alternative behaviors that can be reinforced and benefit the mutual relationship.
* Excerpt from Pet Training and Behavior Consulting: A Model for Raising the Bar to Protect Professionals, Pets and Their People by Tudge, N.J, Nilson, S.J., Millikan, D.A., & Stapleton-Frappell, L.A. (2019). (n.p.): DogNostics Career Center Publishing. Get your free e-book here.