How do you train dogs?

We follow a simple formula when working with dogs

Meeting the dog’s needs

Learning is inefficient or even impossible if a dog’s physical, mental, and emotional needs are not met. This may include increasing physical exercise or giving them appropriate outlets for natural dog behaviors, such as sniffing or chewing. A good training plan starts with addressing these needs.

Managing the environment

The more a dog practices an undesired behavior, the more often that behavior will occur. Prevention of unwanted behaviors needs to happen before replacing them with better ones. We let the dog make choices in training since that is how we teach them to make good decisions, but we need to make sure we set them up to make the correct choice, which is where management comes in.

Reinforcing an incompatible behavior

Learning theory tells us that reinforcement drives behavior. “What do you want your dog to do instead?” is the question we are interested in here. You can’t truly solve behavioral problems without replacing unwanted behaviors with more appropriate ones.

This recipe for success can address all unwanted behaviors from our dogs, all while relying on reinforcement rather than punishment.

At Hungry Dog Training, we know that using reward-based training is not only the most humane way to train dogs, but also the most effective. This method goes by many different names: positive reinforcement, force-free training, and evidence-based training, just to name a few. What do they all mean? Simply put, these methods rely on rewarding appropriate behaviors, while preventing and redirecting inappropriate ones. We don’t need to use punishment or other bad consequences in our training because behavior that isn’t reinforced won’t be repeated, as our dogs aren’t going to waste time doing things that don’t pay off for them.

What equipment do you use/recommend?

We recommend a well-fitted Y- or H-shaped harness and a solid leash. Harness examples include the Ruffwear Front Range Harness and the Blue-9 Pet Products Balance Harness. These harnesses do not restrict natural movements and do not put pressure against a dog’s neck, meaning they are not only the most comfortable option, but also the safest. Training equipment should never cause pain or discomfort, and for that reason we do not use prong collars, choke chains, or electric collars. Not sure what the best option is for you? Reach out – we’re happy to help!