I’ve been meaning to blog again but wasn’t sure what post to start with, so thankfully this blog hop came around. I don’t know if I’ll ever be the person that blogs consistently, but I’ve come to terms with that, and that’s okay by me. The entire point of this blog is for me to document things with Buster, to learn more, and to simply just write, so with that in my mind, I’m just going to do what works for me, which is blogging when I can.
This blog hop is about how people came across positive reinforcement training. Most, not all, positive reinforcement trainers are what we call “crossover trainers.” They trained years ago with choke and pinch collars and used a lot of corrections because that was the norm. If you picked up any dog training book 6-7 years ago, those were the methods used in every single book. As good trainers decided to further their education, they became aware of this newfangled thing called “positive reinforcement training.” As people studied it more and more, they realized they were getting better, more sound results with their dogs. They realized that it’s a better way to train. So many trainers trainers traded their choke chains and pinch collars for treat bags and a variety of treats and never looked back.
I consider myself lucky in that I don’t have that background. I’ve never used a choke chain or pinch collar. Buster IS my positive reinforcement training journey, and I’ve had him for 4 years. The very first book I bought before I even got him was Pat Miller’s The Power of Positive Dog Training. I knew choke chains and pinch collars and shock collars existed, but they were never on my radar. From the beginning, I always thought “that seems mean and unncessary,” so I never went near them. Instead, I bought a clicker within the first week of having Buster. I Googled reviews of various treat bags for ages to make sure that I had the biggest and best one. I tried to figure out what high value treat would work the best for him early on.
So why do I use positive reinforcement? Because it works. Positive reinforcement is based on learning theory, which is proven by science. These are the same principles and ideas on how we teach children in school. These are the same techniques we use for tigers and dolphins and bears and lions and elephants and monkeys, etc. etc., in zoos. If it works for them, why wouldn’t it work on our own dogs?
Unfortunately, positive reinforcement training doesn’t seem to be the norm yet, though I do believe it’s quickly on its way. There are still so many people who use aversives in training, and it’s still unfortunately so common. Then there are also the people who claim they do use and like positive reinforcement training, yet they’re as stingy with their treats as they ever possibly could be.
The only thing we can do is try to educate others and show them that there is a different way to train without using aversives that actually provides results. If you want more scientific evidence on why positive reinforcement training is superior, check out this post by Victoria Stilwell.