Since things started the primary means of controlling dog behaviour has been with a collar, leash and the strength of the trainer's hand. Most pet dog owners do not have the strength and skill required.
Over the past 12 years a new form of dog training has developed based on the system used by Karen Proyer, pioneer marine mammal trainer now known as the "Clicker" which is used for dolphin and whales. The training of dolphins is based on a positive reinforcement-primarily a bucket of fish.
Pryor's experiences planted seeds in the minds of many trainers and behaviourists who thought if marine mammal trainers can control 600-pound sea lions without shouting and force then why cannot we adopt a similar technique with dog training?
Marine mammal trainers use whistles and clickers since they are aware that before they can even say the word "Good" the mammal has swam 30 feet in the air. As soon as a mammal reaches the highest part of a jump he will know that unless he hears a click he will get no fish. The mammal now learns that a wanted behaviour he gets a click and a food reward, no click then he does not receive any reward.
Over the past few years I have often mentioned that the more we talk to our pets in training the less they understand. I have also urged owners to never punish or correct a dog unless they are able to give a positive reinforcement of either a kind voice or a treat of some kind, like a liver treat.
It is important to try and shorten praise words to one word like "Good" rather than "Now that's a clever boy". A good behaviour "Click and treat". If any dog knows you have a treat he will sit, when he does click and treat. The dog might get up, as he does say "Up" click and treat. If he lays down just as he does say "Down" click and treat. When the dog comes to you, then say "Come" click and treat.
You will be amazed at how quick the dog will understand simple one-word commands that are followed by the click and treat. Remember he only gets the click when he does the required command.
Clickers are now all the rage in the USA and are now getting started in the UK.
Commitment, Firmness, but kindness.
by David the Dogman
David is a Canine Behaviourist who works and lives in Marbella, Spain. Tel/Fax (00345) 2883388. His web site is located at: www.thedogman.net. David has his own radio and TV shows, and writes for many newspapers and magazines. David has been working with dogs for many years and started his career in Israel, working on the Border Police. He has been involved in all forms of training, including air sea rescue, air scent work, and has trained dogs for finding drugs. David has devoted the past 10 years to studying behaviour and the very passive approach. He does not use choke chains, check chains, or any form of aggression.