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Reactive Dog Training vs Proactive Dog Training

Dog training Broward
Pugsy is learning manners with guests

One of my favorite catch phrases with clients is, “It’s hard to effectively train a dog while you are being ambushed”.  With our busy lives filled with multitasking, it’s difficult to be prepared to address undesirable dog behavior on the fly.  I get questions like, “What should I do if my dog has an accident in the house?”, “What do I do if my dog jumps on me?”.  “Traditional” (punishment based) dog training involved reactive responses to undesirable dog behavior.  Those responses usually included “corrections” that used force, fear, or pain.  Current dog training considers the emotional well-being of the dog.  Most educated and credential dog trainers do not use force, fear or pain in their training methods because they may traumatize the dog and cause it to be aggressive or fearful, or offer shut-down behavior.

Reactive dog training
Reactive dog training encourages dog owners to use these tools:

  • Cans filled with pennies (startle the dog with sound)
  • Air horns
  • Squirt bottles
  • A growly way to yell at the dog (taught to client by BarkBusters trainers)
  • Choke chain collars
  • Prong collars
  • Shock collars

This is a slippery slope.  For reactive methods and tools to be effective, they must be forceful, or cause fear or pain so the dog does not repeat the behavior.  That is NOT the relationship you want to have with a family member… especially one with sharp teeth.  When using these methods, dogs often protect themselves with aggressive or shut down behavior.  I don’t know anyone that gets a dog and imagines their life with their new dog to include growling, snapping, or hiding behind furniture to avoid confrontation.

Proactive Dog Training
Proactive dog training does not involve force, fear, or pain.  It employs rewards for desirable behavior and appropriate consequences for undesirable behavior.
I encourage my clients to use rewards like treats, play, attention, affection, freedom, and enrichment.
I encourage my client to use appropriate consequences like removing treats, ending play, removing attention and affection, and withholding freedom.

Back to the burning questions like, “What should I do if my dog has an accident in the house?”, “What do I do if my dog jumps on me?”.  I encourage my clients to think about ideas like, “How can I prevent this undesirable behavior?” or “Why does my dog have the freedom to offer this undesirable behavior?”.  When my clients are running around their house saying “No! No! No!”, it’s very likely that their dog has too much freedom.  To be more specific, the dog has more freedom than it can handle.

Training without force, fear, or pain requires limited freedom to prevent “bad” behaviors.  It also requires teaching and rewarding “good” behaviors.  Once a dog learns that good behaviors pay off, bad behaviors get extinguished.  Good trainers will substitute a good behavior like SIT, that is incompatible with a behavior like jumping.  Once the dog gives up on jumping because SIT pays well, then freedom can be introduced.

Proactive dog training sets the dog up for success.  It is all about controlling the environment so the dog is likely to make the right choices, and then gets rewarded heavily for them.  It requires practice and a commitment to doing homework assignments.  This type of training creates confident dogs that willingly and enthusiastically seek direction from their owners.  Using proactive dog training that is force free, pain free, and fear free, will give you the dog-human relationship you imagined the day you brought your dog home.

Looking for a top notch dog trainer in Greater Fort Lauderdale? Please call Oh Behave Dog Training at 954-587-2711 now for a phone consultation.


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