Training your dog’s an important job.
It teaches your Fido new skills.
As well as good manners.
But since there are many methods to choose from…
You might wonder…
“Which one works best on my pooch?
Well. Be at ease as I listed each of them for you.
Keep reading to find out:
- 7 must-know types of dog training.
- The pros and cons of each method.
- The training that best suits you and your dog.
- And so much more…
Table of contents
7 types of dog training
#1: Positive reinforcement
You can also call this ‘reward-based’ training.
As its name implies, it uses prizes to encourage good behavior in dogs.
These can be:
- Affection (e.g., scratches, pats).
And what you’ll offer depends on whichever works best for your Fido.
But 1 tip, if your dog’s highly motivated by food…
Find a snack they love most. Or a treat they don’t usually get outside training.
“How did this method begin?”
It started in the 1940s.
But experts say it wasn’t that popular.
And you’ll understand as you read further.
However, in the 1980s…
People re-discovered ‘operant conditioning.’
“What is it?”
It’s a type of training that uses the following to change a behavior:
And from there (minus the corrections)…
Trainers made this positive strategy.
“How does this work?”
People call dogs ‘opportunists.’ (Adorable ones!)
They’ll likely repeat a behavior if they get something from it.
Say a yummy snack or some belly scrubs.
Most dogs love treats.
So if you repeatedly offer one to your Fido once they obey your command…
They’ll remember it. And connect the action to rewards.
Thus, your pooch will do it again for the treats.
Then as you go on…
It’ll be an automatic response.
And your dog will do it even without rewards.
But you must be patient and consistent for this to be successful.
- Strengthens bond.
- Builds confidence.
- Makes training enjoyable.
- Doesn’t use punishments.
- Doesn’t trigger aggression.
- Prevents stress and anxiety.
- Offers long-term benefits in behavior.
- Needs a lot of time and patience.
- May reinforce bad behavior if the timing’s wrong.
Note: Offer only small pieces of treats to your Fido. Avoid unhealthy brands and choose natural snacks (e.g., apple slices, boiled chicken strips). Also, keep each session 10-15 minutes short.
You might also want to know: 27 Best Dog Trainers In The World (Updated Guide)
#2: Negative reinforcement
Instead of rewards…
This type of training uses punishments.
To stop a dog from doing an unwanted behavior…
People may do either of the following:
- Squirting water.
But these could also be things that dogs dislike.
Say, pinning them down.
As well as removing a toy or treat until they behave well.
Positive vs. negative
Based on a study…
Punished dogs were more stressed than Fidos who weren’t.
They looked tense.
Plus, they panted a lot.
And it’s a result of high ‘cortisol’ levels. A.k.a. the ‘stress hormone.’
- Might work fast but only short-term.
- Damages bond.
- Increases stress.
- May result in injuries.
- Causes fear and confusion.
- Makes dogs more aggressive.
- Doesn’t fix the root cause of the behavior.
Reading tip: 13 Reasons Why You Should NEVER Punish Your Dog
#3: Dominance (alpha) theory
This training’s based on the belief that dogs fight to be on top of the rank.
And if you want your Fido to obey you…
You must act like a pack leader.
As if you’re showing them who’s the boss.
So like #2, this also involves negative punishments.
Speaking of such…
Have you heard of the ‘alpha roll’?
You might have seen this if you saw a video about dominance training before.
It’s a ‘disciplining’ technique where you pin a dog down.
Then you hold them in that position until they settle or behave well.
Usually, a dog will roll over on their back willingly.
It could be submissive behavior.
Like showing a white flag – telling everyone they come in peace.
Other signs of submission in canines are:
But besides this…
Rolling over could mean many things, such as:
- Invitation to play.
- Request for a belly rub.
So the action doesn’t only mean submission.
Which is the main purpose of the alpha roll in dominance theory.
It believes that by doing so…
You’ll make any dog surrender.
However, since alpha roll forces them to be in that position…
It’ll only scare and stress them out.
Which will result in fear and even aggression.
Now, apart from the alpha roll…
Dominance theory also involves:
‘I’m the pack leader’ rules
Here, you must show your pooch that you’re the boss.
For example, you’d always go out the door before your Fido.
Or, your dog can only eat once you’re done with your meal.
“Is this type of training effective?”
This has been a famous method in the past.
But recent studies debunked it.
Hence why positive reinforcement only became popular years ago.
To help you understand this better…
Let’s trace its roots.
How it started
The ‘alpha theory’ came from a 1947 study on captive wolves.
It’s the work of Rudolph Schenkel.
Based on his report, the wolves in the zoo often had fights.
Like they were trying to outrank each other.
Then at that time, these findings became the talk of the town.
And since wolves are dogs’ ancestors…
Some trainers applied this theory to our furry pals.
But thanks to David Mech and his team…
They prove the alpha theory to be inaccurate.
Both on wolves and dogs.
In a natural setting…
They say that no animal’s trying to dominate their pack members.
“So, what did Schenkel see?”
It was the tension between strange wolves.
They came from different packs.
Then put together in a zoo – an artificial habitat.
Thus, it stressed the wolves out. And caused them to act aggressively.
- Seems to curb unwanted behaviors fast.
- Confuses dogs.
- Breaks trust and bond.
- Causes fear and stress.
- Worsens behavioral problems.
- May cause injuries and bite accidents.
Note: It’s not wrong to act as your dog’s leader. But instead of intimidating them, guide them with care. And they’ll repay you with trust and love. 🙂
Continue reading: Dominance (Alpha) Theory Debunked: 9 Reasons To Avoid It
#4: Clicker training
Here’s a type of positive reinforcement.
But in this method, you’ll use a tool instead of verbal cues.
It’s called a ‘clicker.’ (See this one.)
It has a big button in the middle. And it emits a clicking sound.
“How does this training work?”
To make your dog learn that it’s your desired behavior…
You’ll press the clicker to ‘mark’ the action. And give them a piece of snack.
Then as you go on, you’ll slowly reduce the treats.
Until the clicking sound itself becomes the reward.
Now, if you compare this to positive reinforcement…
It’s like telling your Fido, “Good” or “Yes” when they did the right thing.
To see how you should do this…
Check out the tutorial clip below:
“Why’s clicker training effective?”
Many trainers prefer using a clicker as it makes a uniform noise.
Unlike verbal commands, which you may pronounce a bit differently at times.
Then confuse your Fido.
Also, one study found that clicker’s effective in dog training.
Especially in teaching new tricks and behaviors.
But before you try this on your pooch…
Keep these tips in mind:
- Press the clicker only once.
- Do it right after they do the desired behavior.
- Avoid using it outside training to prevent confusion.
- Hold it beside or behind you – not pointed at your dog.
- Rewards should always come after a click (in the early stages).
- Avoid confusion while training.
- Helpful for teaching agility and tricks.
- Clicker gives clearer signals than verbal cues.
- Mainly relies on the tool.
- Might be challenging at first.
#5: Shock collar training
Now, here’s a kind of negative reinforcement.
To make a dog stop misbehaving…
Some also use an electric collar, a.k.a. E-collar.
“What does it do?”
If you press it, it’ll send a shock to your dog’s neck area.
It’ll divert their attention.
And cause them to stop what they’re doing.
It may seem a quick solution for most behavioral issues in dogs.
Say nonstop barking or lunging at strangers.
But since this method involves punishment, the real question is…
“Are shock collars humane and safe?”
Although you may have adjusted the collar’s intensity…
You’d still risk your beloved Fido of burns.
And you must treat these wounds asap.
Or else they’ll get worse.
However, besides the burns…
What’s more concerning’s the trauma it may cause to your dog.
Your Fido will associate the pain with the collar. As well as your presence.
So they could be fearful of you too.
In one research, the dogs trained with E-collars reacted similarly to their handlers.
Also, they showed more signs of stress than Fidos, who didn’t receive shocks.
These behaviors are:
- Lowering of the tail.
- Licking excessively.
- Flicking of the tongue.
Plus, a study shows that dogs don’t benefit much from E-collar training.
This is when compared to positive reinforcement.
Instead, the former poses more risks to Fido’s well-being.
- Might stop an unwanted behavior for a while.
- May cause injuries.
- Induces stress and fear.
- Disregards communication.
- Violates animal welfare laws.
- Increases risk of ailments (e.g., heart disease, cancer).
Note: With all the cons above, shock collars aren’t worth taking the risk. Thus, to protect your dog and your bond, try other safer alternatives.
Learn more: 7 Painful Reasons Why Shock Collars Are Bad For Dogs
#6: Relationship-based training
If you use positive reinforcement…
You’d likely have a good relationship with your Fido.
And it’s one of the reasons why dog training’s important.
But in this method…
You’ll focus on your bond along the way.
“Wait. What do you mean?”
While training, you’ll make conscious efforts to keep your bond positive.
So it’s not only a pure result of training.
“How’s this done?”
It’s similar to positive reinforcement.
It doesn’t use punishments.
But aside from treats and praises…
Your dog will get your understanding as a reward. As well as your attention.
Also, you won’t use any tools and methods here.
What matters most is how you teach your Fido while keeping them stress-free.
However, you must learn to read your dog’s body language to do this.
This is to understand what they feel.
And the things they want to say during sessions.
But like other types of training…
This also has advantages and disadvantages:
- Can be used as a basis for any training.
- Urges you to understand your dog better.
- May not be for stubborn Fidos.
- Not suitable for training multiple dogs.
You might also like: 15 Scientific Facts About Your Dog’s Body Language
#7: Model-rival (M-R) method
This is the rarest type of training on the list.
Dr. Irene Pepperberg created this method.
And she first used it in African Grey Parrots.
While training them…
She found that the birds learned well by watching other parrots.
And a study on dogs also says the same.
In the research, experts trained 9 Fidos to bring a certain object.
They taught some dogs using the reward method.
Meanwhile, others used model-rival or M-R training.
And the results?
M-R training’s as effective as reward-based.
Now, you might think…
“How does this work?”
A dog will watch another Fido do a task and get rewards.
And this works because based on research…
Dogs have ‘social learning’ skills.
Puppies as young as 8 weeks old already have these.
Plus, a newly learned action can stay in their minds for 1 hour.
To test this…
The experts made the puppies watch humans and other dogs solve a task.
They found that instead of their mothers…
Most Fidos learned by observing an unfamiliar hound.
And this might be because dogs are wary of strangers.
So they paid more attention to them.
- Makes use of social skills.
- Helpful in teaching service dogs.
- Can be used to upgrade training.
- Needs to be studied more.
- Not for every dog and trick.
The best type of dog training for you and your dog
Positive reinforcement’s the best type of training for you and your dog. It uses rewards to encourage good behavior. And it doesn’t apply punishments that can stress a dog out.
With this method, you’ll let your Fido know your desired behavior. (The action that always gets rewarded.)
Then since they earn something from it, they’ll repeat it.
So, as a result, you’ll also discourage your pooch from doing unwanted behaviors.
And you’ll do this without causing them:
A study shows that negative training makes dogs even more:
Experts observed these after the actions below:
- Alpha roll.
- Growling back.
The dogs also acted the same way, even to a familiar person.
So doing the things above can ruin your bond.
And make them scared of your presence.
Plus, one research says that punished dogs aren’t more obedient than rewarded Fidos.
Thus, harsh corrections don’t answer a dog’s behavioral issues.
What they need’s gentle guidance and a clear sign.
Also, the more you make each training session positive…
The more your dog will look forward to it.
Then as you spend more fun time together, your bond will become stronger too.
Thus, this is a win-win situation for both of you.
Your Fido learns new things.
And they get to have quality time with their beloved human.
Meanwhile, you’ll have a dog who’ll trust and obey you.