Positive education

Positive education

For many years now, dog trainers have been promoting a different form of education than the traditional (or coercive) one, the positive education.

But why change an education that is several hundred years old? Well, like everything else, we evolve. The place of the dog and the vision we have of him have changed. From a scientific point of view, studies and statistics have also helped us to better understand our four-legged friend. Moreover, legally, coercive training is forbidden in Switzerland since 2008.

The Dog Educator Roxane Fumeaux from Déclic Canin gives us some interesting information:

A dog trained with coercive methods will statistically have more health problems and a shorter lifetime.  In addition, a dog that is given the opportunity to make choices in its daily life will be more balanced and less stressed.

Indeed, when we talk about traditional education, we mention the notion of dominant (=man)/dominated (=dog). The well-being of the dog is not much, or not at all, taken into consideration and punishment and reprimand have a big place in this training.

Positive education, on the other hand, is based on motivation (= reward), respect for the animal (= no mistreatment and trying to understand the dog according to its sensitivity, its character, its mood, etc.) and the search for a relational balance between man and dog.

The detractors will say: "The dog has no limits" or "The dogs will become obese with all these treats".

So no, in positive education, there are of course rules. The difference is in how you manage them. And, regarding treats, you just need to have a good management of them. For example, take treats that are not too high in calories or reduce the ration of kibble if necessary. But what you should also know is that the reward is not necessarily food. It's more about what your dog likes and the situation. It can be his favorite toy, simple cuddles or even letting him smell something.

Here is an example so that you can better understand this method:

  • If your dog pulls on the leash during a walk, the simple act of stopping will reduce the pulling behavior because the dog understands that keeping the leash loose is what keeps him going. And when he doesn't pull on the leash or, even better, when he keeps a certain attention on you by looking at you from time to time, a reward will be given to value this behavior.

This approach is based on the principle that the more your dog enjoys interacting with you, the more he will be willing to learn.

So if you agree with this logic, this method is for you! 😊 But one thing is for sure, you have to educate your dog. The SAP (Swiss Animal Protection) says this: "The origin of undesirable behaviors is usually the fault of the owner and not the dog." A dog, not or badly educated, will statistically have more risk to cause incidents.

So don't forget, it's never too late to educate your dog! 😉