Positive Training Techniques 101

One of great benefits of using positive training is that it gives an owner options when teaching a new behavior.  There are 3 main techniques that positive trainers utilize when working with dogs and creating wanted behaviors.

Luring:  This usually entails taking a treat and having your dog follow it until he reaches the “position” that you want.  For instance, for a “sit”  you would take the treat, place it in front of his nose, and pull the treat above his head causing him to sit.  Do this several times so that he has the “action”.  Then you can add the cue word “sit”.

Capturing:  This is used when your dog is already doing a behavior that you want..but you want it on a cue.  An example would be along the lines of wanting to teach “down”.  Wait until your dog is lying on the ground and simply walk up to your dog and “reward” him over and over again.  Soon you can add a cue word “down” and reward.  After that, you would  give the cue word “down” and see if your dog responds.

Shaping: This is when you break down a behavior into very small increments so that your dog can succeed.  For instance, if I was asking my dog to “down”, I may reward the dog for just bowing his head at first, then reward him for bending a bit more, and finally reward him lying all the way down.  This is the best way to train a dog when teaching difficult skills or tricks.

Positive trainers are always looking for creative and stress free ways to encourage dogs to offer behaviors. By understanding just how each techniques works, trainers are seldom at a loss on how to coach a dog through a behavior. Not all dogs take in information at the same rate, so not all techniques may work for a particular dog. With the above options, owners and trainers are able to choose the one that best suits their dog.

There are many books and articles which break down these three techniques a bit more.  The benefit of understanding how they work is that it gives an owner more “tools” in their training toolbox. The more tools, the better chance of success. And successful learning is what training is all about!