In child education, it has long been known that people learn badly under stress and through compulsion and that they cannot remember anything well. This knowledge also applies to dog training. Unfortunately, however, some training methods still persist. Here you can find out why training by force and punishment is not sensible and even harmful: Aversive training methods.
Who is the boss here? – You have to be the alpha dog.
Rumour: According to this theory, you have to take the alpha role in the pack, otherwise the dog becomes dominant. A completely outdated theory, which goes back to the observation of wolves living in captivity. This results in all kinds of training methods, which we will look at in more detail below.
Fact: The dog is a member of the family and, like all creatures living in social associations, needs clear guidelines and boundaries. Your pet is most likely to accept these if he understands them and can trust you, i.e. if you respond to his needs and his communication.
You can’t train a dog without a spiked collar?
Rumour: Unfortunately, aids such as spiked, chain or electric collars are still used to make the dog compliant. By applying pressure on the leash, the dog is supposed to learn to heel, by spraying or electric shocks he learns what not to do. In the process, however, he does not learn what he is supposed to do and falls into a learned helplessness. He is under constant stress and has no confidence in you. Sooner or later he will not react at all or “suddenly” fight back.
These collars are banned in many countries including Austria, Germany and Switzerland and are against animal welfare laws! You are committing a criminal offence if you sell, purchase or possess a spiked collar or similar.
Fact: With a well-fitting chest harness, your dog can learn without pain that it is worth walking next to you. Should he run into the leash, his weight is distributed over his body and does not concentrate on the sensitive neck area.
Alpha throw, neck shake and muzzle grip – just like the mother dog does?
Rumour: In alpha throwing, the dog is turned onto its back and fixed until it stops moving. In neck shaking, the neck fur is taken, and the dog is shaken, this is a particularly traumatic experience for the dog, as this behaviour is only shown by conspecifics in the event of a kill, so the dog is scared to death. In the muzzle grab, the dog’s mouth is virtually held shut, but a mother dog would never do that either, she just holds her open mouth over the puppy’s muzzle for a second.
As humans we can hardly imitate dog behaviour – we are not dogs. Dogs, however, are great observers and quickly learn to interpret our body language.
Fact: If you want your darling to refrain from doing something, it is best to teach him a stop signal. A well-built recall also helps you to interrupt your dog’s behaviour in certain situations. Ideally, you show your dog what you want him to do before he shows an unwanted behaviour. This way he learns what to do.
Dipping the dog’s nose in the urine – how to house-train him?
Rumour: Whenever your dog relieves himself in places that are undesirable, you dip the dog’s nose in the urine and take him outside. But your dog does not understand what he has done wrong and only learns to be afraid of you and to do his business secretly.
Fact: Watch your dog! As a rule of thumb, puppies need to go out after playing, eating and sleeping. Praise your pet when he has gone outside. If a mess happens, try to get rid of it secretly and don’t make a big fuss about it so that your dog doesn’t learn to get attention for this behaviour.
Modern dog training
In modern dog training, positive reinforcement is the main training method. The dog should understand what we want from him and be encouraged in his strengths. It is clear that violence and suppression in dog training must finally be a thing of the past. Only in this way is a harmonious coexistence possible.
So get to know your dog’s body language, pay attention to his needs and, if necessary, look for a certified dog trainer.
Unfortunately, some methods persist, which are usually accompanied by violence, pain, fear and punishment. In modern dog training, we know what this does to our dogs and that living together can quickly become a danger. As a family member and sentient being, the dog has a right to a non-violent and species-appropriate life. So we should try to understand him and teach him things we want instead of punishing what we don’t like.