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Balanced Training - Correction, Reinforcement and Reward

I believe firmly in an approach to dog training that promotes reward and praise as well as correction and reinforcement. Let's call this "balanced training" because it takes techniques from both ends of the training spectrum. Reward also balances the pressure of correction. There are lessons to learn from all philosophies of training. The key is finding what works - refining it and combining it with other successful methods.

Balanced training means that your dog will be taught to cope with all real world situations. We do not work exclusively "below threshold" as some trainers do. We teach the dog to learn to cope with normal, everyday things. We introduce the dog to the "trigger" and teach them an appropriate response. This is done in thoughtfully and in stages. We use reward so the dog learns the benefit to coping with this new pressure. We introduce correction to teach the dog that it must follow through with our command.

I believe in balanced training because I've seen it work first hand with my own dog and many others. In my experience, some training works well for teaching commands, but they don't always "stick" in areas of distraction. "Positive only" didn't help to reduce my dog's aggression towards other dogs. It taught me to distract my dog, not how to feel safe to play and be comfortable around other dogs. It wasn't until Correction and Reinforcement were added to the Positive Reinforcement that I was able to move to a new training level.

If you are new to Cause and Effect Dog Training and are wondering what we mean by correction, reinforcement and reward, here is a simple explanation.

Correction - Strong physical consequence to unwanted behavior. This can be done with a "pop" using a prong collar, or with a stimulation "shock" with an electronic collar. A correction is very brief and is done calmly without anger or stress.

Reward/Praise - Food, touch, play, verbal praise, running with the dog and affection. Any thing that the dog sees as a positive interaction or that it is motivated to have. Reward is of equal importance to Correction.

Reinforcement - a light "pop" on the leash or "very low" stimulation/shock with an electronic collar. The reinforcement is used to gain instant focus from the dog and to teach it to decipher which words are commands that must be followed.

~Written by Kathy Kear


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