For every one side in Dog Training there is a complete opposite side. This explains why you can hear one person tell you one thing and another person can tell you to do the exact opposite. Both of those opinions have worked for one dog at one point in time. Just like Day has its Night, Summer has its Winter, Reward Based Dog Training has its Force Based Dog Training. It is always good to take note of what people tell you and ask yourself if this applies to your dog or your training values.
Example: Training a dog to sit can be done:
Reward - Lure the dog into a sit with food.
Force - Hold up on the dog’s leash until they sit.
One is reward and one is force and both can work to train a dog to sit. Some dogs may be too excited to lure into a sit with food and some dogs may pass out before they think of sitting with the leash being held up.
There are pros and cons to either side.
Pros: Dogs enjoy this, they learn fast.
Cons: Can (not always) become a bribe where the dog only does it for food.
Pros: Dog learns they have to sit whether they want to or not. You can achieve high level obedience with force.
Cons: The dog can become scared, you can break their spirit, you can make them reactive on leash. (Not always).
What we have found is that in many cases you can do a blend and take the pros from both sides and the cons of neither. Teach the dog how to sit using food first. Remember dogs don’t always know what you want, they aren’t always trying to be stubborn, usually they just don’t know. Using food is a fun and easy way to train sit.
Once the dog knows sit then you can have them on leash and lift up on the leash to have just a tiny bit of pressure on their collar and then tell them to sit. When they sit, release pressure and reward. Repeat hundreds of times until you can just lift up on the leash gently and the dog sits.
This teaches the dog in a nice way but also tells them that when you want them to do something you are going to make them follow through. This eliminates “Food Amnesia” where the dog only seems to remember the commands when you bring out food.