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Different Training Techniques

Most obedience training methods today use positive reinforcement. Some use it exclusively while others combine it with correction. Choosing a method depends on which technique you are most comfortable with, keeping in mind your dog’s personality. Different dog breeds have different temperaments and different dogs within a breed have different personalities. Though the basic commands are similar amongst various training methods, one method may be better for your dog than another. For example, a timid Yorkie is less likely to respond well to a corrective technique while a bull-headed Pit Bull will probably need a combo of positive and corrective reinforcement. The key is to remember that training your dog is fun and a great opportunity for you to bond. Leave the day’s frustrations out of the session.

Traditional Dog Training: The modern version of traditional training really began with Barbara Woodhouse in the 1950s. This method uses physical corrections to train a dog. For example, if you tell your dog to sit and he stays standing, you might give a gentle jerk on his collar or choke chain while pushing down his rump. Rewards for a completed task include an encouraging “Good Dog!”. This method is considered to be outdated by many modern trainers but you’ll find that some dogs (like that bull-headed Pit Bull) might respond to this after failing with positive reinforcement training.

Clicker Training: This is one of the most popular recent types of dog training and was introduced by Karen Pryor. It can be used for everything from basic commands to potty training to behavioral problems such as excessive barking. The theory behind clicker training is that animals learn best from “operant conditioning.” Operant conditioning means that an animal learns from his environment and that he is more likely to respond to a positive consequence than a negative one.This is pure positive reinforcement training – the clicker indicates to a dog what he has done right. This method is well-liked because it is gentle and offers a good experience for both dog and owner.

Reward Training: This is another positive reinforcement technique but the incentive is not the association with the clicker, but some sort of reward. The reward can be a favorite toy, food, or anything he loves (except the cat). When you give the reward, you should praise your dog in a high pitched encouraging voice. Enthusiasm is encouraged in both you and your dog.

Dog Whispering: Though Cesar Millan, the inventor of this method, sometimes comes under criticism because of the use of correction, it can be a very useful technique with some dogs. The foundation of dog whispering is the connection with and understanding between you and your dog. The key is that you have to be able to read your dog’s body language and to use your own body language to train him. This does often involve correction but the corrections are based on dog behavior. For example, a dog who is being aggressive toward another dog can be corrected by applying a clawed hand to his neck. This mimics what his mother would have done in the wild. This method requires some study into the behavior of dogs but it can create a very tight bond between you.

In addition to actual dog trainers, you can get advice from a dog behavioral specialist. You might also be interested in learning about the cognitive functions of dogs. There are books on the subject and Cognitive Canine Centers around the country. This will help you understand how your dog thinks and will make training easier. Remember that the most important aspects are to be calm and consistent and try to have some fun, too!

Listed below are the traits we look for when choosing a new dog for training. You can even utilize this list when picking out a new personal pet! 

Dogs should be over the age of two years old.

  • Exceptions will be made by trainer and a board member. 
  • Exceptions will be looked at as a one on one basis.

Dogs should exhibit the ability to be biddable, (you can use food or toys to return).
Dogs should exhibit taking the treat or toy gently.
Dogs should be able to lay down or be separate from a human for a period of time.
Dogs should exhibit the ability to focus on the trainer or handler.

  • Trainer or handler should work watch me exercise no more than five to ten minutes
  • Dogs that look at trainer/handler for a few seconds then look away will be questionable.
  • Dogs should be able to hold the look for several seconds 20+ in order to be accepted.

Dogs should be calm.
Dogs should neutral or easily managed around children, men, women, other dogs and cats.
Dogs should be comfortable being handled by trainer or other person.

  • Trainer should be able to lift feet.
  • Trainer should be able to exam dog including, eyes, ears, mouth and full body

Dogs should not growl, bite or jump on or at trainer or other persons during, before or after the evaluation.
Dogs should show comfort in a crowd.
Dogs should be aware of handler at all times.
Dogs should not be overly sensitive to tail or feet being touched by someone passing by.
Dogs should not show fear of people, floors, noise, or surroundings.
Dogs should not have fear of storms.
Dogs should not show excessive barking.
Dogs should not cower or over react to a sudden loud noise.
Dogs should have a kind eye and comfortable seek out handler.
Dogs should have minimal calming signals in new or stressful situations  Calming signals include: Lip licks, licks,self, paws, crouches ,tail tuck, freezes. avoids eye contact. submissive urination,   ears back, yawns, pants. trembles, runs fence, digs, spins paces, chews, other
Dogs should not show aggression to other dogs or animals in the same room.

  • Dogs should be ok within a three foot span of another dog.
  • Dogs are not expected to go nose to nose.


  • Do you like dogs?
  • Do you have space for the dog to exercise?
  • Do the other people in your house support you getting a Service Dog?
  • Are you capable of paying for vet and other health services for the dog?
  • Are you willing to learn the techniques necessary to manage the dog?