Positive Training and You
Have you ever wondered why dogs are such “pack” animals? What this means is that they need an alpha dog to guide them as a way of coping with their regular lives. This is very important to understand, as it means that the owner – you – must behave as alpha.
Now, individual dogs differ in their levels of “submissiveness.” Most dogs are very joyful and have a natural inclination to be submissive, making dog training easy or at least sort of easy. Others may wish to challenge your ability.
However, with a proper knowledge of positive training methods, practice and a whole lot of patience, you will be able to generate and maintain a feeling of bonding and togetherness with your dog.
Solving behavioral difficulties is a two part process:
1) A knowledge of reward based training, knowing operant conditioning, a/k/a clicker training is fundamental to training success (see operant conditioning under Featured Articles for a complete explanation).
2) Establishing yourself as the leader of the pack, coupled with the knowledge of reward based training.
These two steps are the most important ways to earn his respect, along with a sense of reciprocal trust and admiration.
Operant conditioning relies on recognizing good behavior patterns and then rewarding them with the appropriate complements (reinforcements) and signs of mutual respect (praise).
Dogs can immediately sense the “alpha” character in someone. That is the way they have been hardwired for centuries. Everything about their genetic makeup is designed to remain responsive to the alpha leader of the pack. Before we humans came along, this is how the ancestry of dogs functioned in groups.
What do dogs do when their owners show the typical attributes of an alpha dog? They shower you with admiration by wagging their tails and remaining obedient.
The important thing is always to remain consistent and honest with your dog.