- April Schrader, CPDT-KA
Breaking the Breed Barrier: Why All Dogs Can Learn Without Force
Dogs are one of the most popular pets in the world, with a rich history of serving humans in various capacities, including as hunting companions, guard dogs, and even therapy animals. But what sets them apart from other animals is their remarkable ability to learn.
Unfortunately, some people believe that certain breeds of dogs require a heavy hand or aversive training methods, such as shock collars or physical punishment, to be effectively trained. This is a misconception that is not supported by scientific evidence. In fact, using aversive training methods can have serious negative consequences, such as increased fear and aggression in dogs, and can damage the bond between the dog and their owner.
It's also important to remember that a dog's breed does not determine their behavior or ability to learn - every dog has the potential to excel with the right training!
Here are some reasons why:
Learning is a natural behavior for all dogs: Learning is a fundamental behavior for dogs, just like eating, sleeping, and playing. Dogs have a natural curiosity and eagerness to explore their surroundings, which helps them learn about the world around them
All dogs learn through the same basic principles: All dogs learn through a process called operant conditioning, which involves associating behaviors with consequences. For example, if a dog performs a behavior that results in a positive outcome, such as receiving a treat, they are more likely to repeat that behavior in the future. Conversely, if a behavior results in a negative consequence, you are walking your dog and they start to pull, you stop walking and wait till your dog stops pulling. You are negatively punishing the behavior of pulling by taking away the stimulus of walking. Making it less likely that your dog will pull in the future.
Positive reinforcement can be used to teach any dog: Positive reinforcement is one of the most effective and humane methods of training dogs. It involves rewarding a dog for performing a desired behavior, such as sitting or staying. This method can be used to teach any dog, regardless of their breed or age.
Dogs are adaptable and can learn new behaviors: Dogs are highly adaptable animals that can learn to perform a wide range of behaviors. Whether it's learning to fetch a ball, walk on a leash, or perform a complex obedience routine, dogs have the ability to learn new behaviors through consistent training and positive reinforcement.
In conclusion, all dogs have the same capacity to learn, regardless of their breed or age. Learning is a natural behavior for dogs, and they all learn through the same basic principles of operant conditioning.