Dog Training

There are two methods of dog training. One is negative training, where the dog is taught to respond because of a negative stimuli. For example in some areas dogs are taught to track by placing the tracking lead between their legs and forcing their nose to the ground, thus teaching them that that is how they are to work.  In positive training we teach the dog to track by making it fun for the dog, such as giving him/her a pleasant reward at the end of the track (a ball, lavish praise, play, etc.). In negative training the dog learns to perform an act because he/she is forced into it, or is sternly corrected for not doing it.  In positive training the dog learns to perform an act because of the positive reward at the end of the act.

All dog training should be team related, that is, teaching the dog to respond to commands of his handler, who is working as a teammate, rather than a boss.  If your dog comes to the understanding that his/her acts, when done correctly, please you, he/she will continue to learn from you much more easily than he/she would if you made him/her do an act, then merely give him/her a pat on the head. 

In negative obedience training a dog may be trained to heel, and might receive a sharp collar correction coupled with a harsh verbal correction.  This does work, but it may have a tendency to break the dog's spirit, especially if he/she is somewhat shy.  A better method, in my opinion, is positive training.  In positive training, where a dog is trained to heel, he focuses on his handler because the handler continues verbal communication with the dog throughout the exercise.  You may have seen, or possibly used, a negative method to get a dog to do an about turn (where the handler and dog do a 180 degree turn and continue in the direction opposite to the direction they were first going).  In negative training the handler would give the dog a sharp jerk on the training collar to get him/her to respond and make that 180 degree turn with the handler.  I use a positive method to do this.  As I am walking along I speak to the dog almost continuously.  As I am about to make the about turn, I coax the dog to focus on me and perhaps give him two or three little tugs on the leash.  I usually say something to the effect of "Here we go, pay attention, watch me, here we go", then go into my about turn.  Should the dog lag as I go into the turn,  I will again coax him by verbal stimulation as well as be patting my leg, snapping my fingers, etc.  As the about turn is completed I let the dog have some high-pitched verbal praise ("What a gooooood boy (girl)!") as we continue the heeling exercise.  After only about two or three exercises in this manner I no longer tug on the leash, but continue the verbalization and high-pitched praise.

Now, someone might ask, "What about my dog, he/she is a hard, tough, strong-willed dog.  Does positive training work in this instance?"  Let's put it this way.  In negative training a "hard" dog might be yanked off of his/her feet to get him/her to make that about turn.  That would probably work after a few times, but it might also get the handler bit as well.  In positive training I would give the dog two or three stronger tugs on the leash, while still giving him/her some encouraging verbalization ("Come on, that's it") or something of that nature.  You are mainly trying to give the dog a little bit of a leash correction, while at the same time making the exercise pleasant for the dog by giving him/her that encouraging verbalization.

Again, if you want to make training pleasant for your dog, make your training positive. Let him/her enjoy it.  You'll find that you will enjoy it much more as well.


To have a good partnership with your dog, you must first build a bond with him/her.  Although, after a time, you can build the bond, it is much better to let the dog build the bond him/herself.

I purchased a dog from the Czech Republic several years ago and picked him up at the airport.  When I saw him in the "sky kennel" I was a little concerned, because he stared at me with piercing eyes.  Since I didn't want to show any fear of him, I opened the kennel, reached in, took hold of his collar and snapped a six-foot lead into it.  I walked him around outside the freight terminal for a few minutes, talking softly to him,  until he relieved himself, then loaded him into my vehicle for the trip home.  Once at home I took the "sky-kennel" out of the vehicle and put it on my enclosed patio.  I then took him out of the vehicle and walked him around my yard, again talking softly to him ("Good boy", "What a good dog", and so forth). Periodically he would stop and look at me, still with those piercing eyes.  I then put him back into he "sky kennel".

This continued for just over a week, many times a day, with the same reaction from him, stopping and looking at me with those piercing eyes. On the eighth day, as we were walking in the yard, with him still on the six-foot leash, and me still talking softly to him, he stopped, looked back at me, then came and sat at my side, raised his head up to make eye contact with me, leaned against me and put his head against my waist.  I petted him and again spoke softly to him.  We began our training the following week and I found that he would, throughout his lifetime, do whatever I asked of him and look at me for approval to do almost anything.

That told me that he bonded with me when he was ready, not when I wanted him to.  Throughout his lifetime we had the best partnership I have ever had with a dog, and I'm sure you can do he same.  Let him/her bond with you when ready!