What is balanced training? What tools do you use and how do you train?
In a nutshell, balanced training is when you tell the dog when he’s got it right and you tell the dog when he’s got it wrong. Old school dog training was all about corrections with little to no acknowledgment for good behavior. A lot of dog training today is no corrections “positive reinforcement only.” In my opinion, the concept of ignoring bad/dangerous behavior and only rewarding good behavior is unsafe as well as completely unnatural to dogs. It is our responsibility, as our dogs’ leaders, coaches and guides, to show them appropriate and safe ways to be a part of our man-made, confusing world. This involves both correction and positive reinforcement. In nature there is almost no positive reinforcement and most learning takes place through correction. This is a survival mechanism known as “hazard avoidance.” Nature can be rough and one sided. We don’t have to be. We can communicate with dogs clearly and fairly by acknowledging them for both bad AND good behavior!
Where it all started…
The first correction a dog ever feels is that of its mother giving the pup “information.” If the puppy nurses its mother too hard she will respond by biting the puppy. More often than not, this correction is enough to make the puppy squeal, but certainly not enough pressure to break the skin. Next, the pup will receive similar communication from its littermates. During play the pups will tug and pull at one another with their puppy fangs. This is how dogs learn “bite control” and how to apply/release the amount of pressure that they put on one another with their mouths. A well socialized adult dog knows how to appropriately use his mouth in play, by respecting his playmates’ communication.
If this is how dogs communicate, then how are we equipped to communicate with them? We are NOT equipped, because we are not dogs. That is where training equipment comes in. There are tools out on the market that are designed to communicate with dogs in ways that simulate dog-to-dog communication. These tools are Starmark collars, prong and remote collars, all of which make communication gentle, easy and precise.