There are two types of training: “all positive” and “balanced training.”
In “all positive training,” the trainer/pack leader will coax and lure the dog with food, possibly marking the behavior with a clicker. They believe in all touch-free training. We are not against using food to train dogs (and in fact, we use it frequently), but there are highly distracting situations where this type of training simply doesn’t work.
For example, when high-drive dogs fixate on a squirrel, cat or deer, there is no amount of training treats you can offer your dog that will cause him/her to decide to stop chasing squirrels or cats, behavior that can get your dog killed by a passing in front of a car.
If a dog jumps a fence and attacks a child or another dog, you cannot change that aroused behavior with food. The dog is in a highly excited state, and it’s impossible to alter that behavior in advance with food, love or sweet talk. It doesn’t work. And the behavior of the dog can get him/her killed either from getting in a dog fight, by the homeowner protecting him/herself or from biting or causing fear in someone that will cause you to have your dog put down, put into a shelter or given away.
Beyond that, the notion that anyone can learn with all positive training is plain silly. Think back on your own learning experiences: did you learn more from your failures or your successes?
We have seen mentally unbalanced, mouthy, pushy, bratty dogs who have been to obedience school who are overweight from so many treats and they cannot perform their “tricks” without food. They simply tune out when the handler runs out of treats.
We also have badly behaved dogs who aggress against humans and/or other dogs with the intent to harm or kill. Feeding your dog treats to change their behavior will not work.
What is balanced training?
Balanced training includes both negative corrections and positive reinforcement with a focus on the dog’s state of mind. Because dogs live in the moment, not in the future or the past, reward and correction must be in the moment too. The dog must be given negative and positive feedback from the handler so that the dog learns to make better choices.
As a balanced trainer, I use my body, my energy, my tone of voice, physical touch, praise, verbal correction, duration/anchor work and a structured household management system in my training. As far as equipment goes, I use flat buckle collars, leashes, prong collars, Dominant Dog collars, eCollars for remote collar work and recall, toys, Pet Convincers, food and slip leads. Behavior that is dangerous to humans, other dogs or to the community must be corrected and comprises about 10 percent of my training. The remaining 90 percent is all the awesome, fun part of training that dogs love!
We use modern, low-level eCollars. We do not shock dogs! In fact, once the dog knows basic obedience commands, we can layer off-leash technology for absolute, 100 percent recall. We also use food/treats and toys (depending upon what motivates the dog) to help dogs learn.
Additionally, we can modify dangerous, unwanted behaviors such as barking, counter-surfing, jumping the fence, mouthing, resource guarding, begging or running away.