As is the case in most arguments or discussions the truth usually can be found in the middle ground.
Just as with children, we believe in rewards for good behavior and correction at the level that fits the dogs personality, size, age, and willingness.
We do not believe in the use of abuse in any circumstances.
We utilize flat collars for the most delicate breeds and temperaments, slip collars for the average situation and average temperament, and pinch collars for the very tough breeds and dominant personalities. We believe in using the word "No" (or equivalent word) in association with a correction. Corrections can be instinctual corrections such as bad tastes, smells, or sounds, in addition to collar corrections.
Having studied wolf behavior, we believe in training dogs using natural canine language. Dogs learn very differently than humans. Understanding the way they see and interpret their world goes a long way to help us properly communicate with them. Training “The Natural Way” is very different from what you will typically find in currently available training styles.
We believe in teaching the dog to make their own decision based upon proper communication of desired behaviors. When a dog learns to make his own decisions based upon his experiences he becomes able to be reliable off-leash and is more capable of problem-solving in unusual or difficult situations. You may notice that this is not so different from your desired results when teaching children. Dog training is similar to raising children but more difficult for people to understand because we must communicate with the dog from a canine point of view. This requires that we have an understanding of how dogs think and perceive their world. We understand that this is an integral part of our job, to teach the client how best to communicate with their canine companion.
The middle ground is what we believe in at K-9 Companions. Our methods are a blend of positive motivation and mild correction. It is very important to dogs in their own canine psychology, that they know where their boundaries of behavior lie.
These are established through training which allows you to use “ritual behaviors” to keep the dog in check. The dog should understand that you are the “Alpha” (dominant) in the pack. Dogs are born with an instinctive canine need to know what their role is in the pack. In a wolf pack, this role is taught to him as he grows by his pack members (family).
When we raise a canine WE are the pack members (family) who must teach him what his role is. When this is not done he is left to figure it out for himself. He will try out various behaviors to see how you react to them. This is often the time when the family will seek out a trainer.
This means that we will use food, toy, and tactile and verbal praise.
We will eventually wean the dog onto a praise based system but scientists have proven that the best reward system is intermittent.
This allows the dog to always expect that he could receive a reward at any given time. This has the effect of keeping his performance level high even in the temporary absence of food or toy reward.
There are trainers who believe that ALL aversive training is BAD. The truth as we see it is that all ABUSE is BAD.
Aversive methods include things like an unpleasant taste or smell to avert a dog from barking or chewing on something. Consider for a moment how the dog is set up to learn in the wild. If the dog chases a skunk he gets sprayed with a very foul odor. After that happens once or twice he will probably not chase a skunk again. If he eats the wrong plant he gets an unpleasant taste and probably will choose to avoid that plant.
Compulsion is MAKING the dog do what you want and this is very different from aversion. Aversion is teaching the dog to make a decision by what works best for him based on HIS choices. The dog for instance learns that chewing on his toy is much more rewarding because there may be treats hidden inside or the owner might then play with him. He also has learned that chewing on his owners’ shoes (although tempting) results in an unpleasant taste or smell.
There are many training methods and styles and all will work at some level or they wouldn’t be recognized methods.
The secret is for the trainer to be able to recognize the right method and tools for the individual dog, temperament, and job description. We are not stating that other trainers are wrong or their methods are bad.
We are simply letting you know why we believe our style works best for the majority of the pet dog owning public. We have the flexibility to select a method from any style based upon the job at hand. In 90% of the cases we use the centerist philosophy.
If you consider how you would train your child (treats and no correction vs. compulsion) most people would say neither. There must be some middle ground that is fair to the subject of the training, non-spoiling, but yet non-abusive. There is! A mixture between praise, treats, and light or instinctual corrections works best in our opinion for the public’s needs.. Our goal is to be able to teach every owner a practical way to train their dog that they can use in their everyday life.