Balanced Dog Training Myths
Myths ≠ Reality
Before You Read On, Why Trust Us?
We've trained hundreds of dogs, big and small, most breeds, as well as have successfully rehabilitated almost every behavior issue imaginable from mild to most extreme.
Prior to branching out on our own and starting Hope Gables Canine, we volunteered our time at a behavior modification dog training center in Westchester, NY.
Our own personal story is a testament to why we believe so much in balanced training. Without these tools and techniques, we don't know where Layla, our Mini Australian Shepherd would be. And it's sad to speculate such a thing but inspiring in so many ways.
So, without further adieu, here are the most common things you'll hear or read on the internet about balanced training:
1. Balanced Training is Exclusively About Correcting Your Dog
Positive Reinforcement is the backbone of our Balanced Training Programs because we need to:
Build up your dog's confidence to behaviors that are brand new to them ("Hey, great job!")
Increase the likelihood of those behaviors in order to set expectations of behaviors that are acceptable inside and outside of the home
Grab your dog's focus and keep it on us (and you) throughout each training session. In other words, keep them engaged.
Positive Reinforcement is not the only way we train because:
Life happens and at some point your dog is going to make an active decision to go against what you're asking of them (i.e. Ask yourself, is the treat in your hand more valuable than your dog running towards a deer? Probably not.)
Like humans, your dog doesn't just learn based on food. The reason why we don't rob banks is because we don't want to get thrown in jail. Not because someone rewarded us for doing differently.
Boundaries are part of every healthy relationship. We all know at least one couple that goes through each other's phones. How do those relationships typically end up?
2. My Dog Looks a Little Confused and/or Stressed
Your dog's response to anything new won't be always met with confidence at first. Take us, for example. If someone walked into your home tomorrow and started walking you through various math equations, how would you feel? Unless you're a mathematician, probably a little stressed and confused at first? You'd probably start asking yourself questions like, "Who is this?", "Why is he/she here?" and "Why do I have to take this test again?"
This is completely normal and common. And is exactly why we take things one step at a time. We don't work your dog up to challenges until they show us that they're confident in an environment with little to no distractions first.
Once your dog can perform the behavior inside the home, then we bring things outdoors. Anything less than that would be unfair.
3. Training Collars (i.e. Prong Collars & E-Collars) Intensify or Create Behavior Issues
This is one of the more unfortunate myths that floats around on the internet. The notion that a training collar can intensity or create a behavior issue out of thin air. Let us explain...
For dogs that already have a behavior issue:
You cannot make that issue worse with a correction. In fact, corrections allow us to tell the dog, "Hey, that's unacceptable behavior." It's the combination of positive reinforcement and corrections that allow us to rehabilitate these types of bad behaviors time and time again.
Now, what can happen is your dog can choose to not accept the correction you're giving them. A dog that has never been told "No" can have a sense of entitlement that they try to lean into at first which comes through in the form of them acting out. Think kid in a candy store stomping their feet because they aren't getting their way. This is usually short-lived once the dog realizes that you're not going to give into their protesting.
For dogs that don't have any behavior issues:
You cannot create a behavior issue with a training collar out of thin air. For dogs that don't have a behavior issue or need behavior modification, we use these collars on low levels to proof basic obedience commands such as Sit, Down, Stay, Place, etc.
Since the collars are only used to hold your dog accountable for everyday obedience commands, you would have to do everything wrong for them to manifest a behavior issue or have a negative connotation to any of these tools. And this is why we never recommend you ordering one of these collars and trying to teach it on your own.
4. Prong Collars Are Harmful
A prong collar used correctly is actually one of the most humane collars on the market, especially compared to your ordinary flat buckle collar. Here's a great explanation as to why:
Credit: @myboyrudder on Instagram
5. E-Collars Can Create Burn Marks
This is one of the most common misconceptions about e-collars in general. Let's break this down a bit:
In order for the e-collar to effectively make contact with the skin on your dog's neck, it is manufactured with metal contact points on the back of the receiver. These contact points are what delivers the stimulation.
Like with any item that sits snugly against the skin (think tight jewelry), leaving it in the same area for too long can create pressure sores.
Pressure sores and burns are two completely different things sitting on either side of the spectrum. Burns do not and cannot occur from the e-collar. It's simply not possible.
How to avoid them? It's simple:
Rotate the receiver to the opposite side of your dog's neck at least 1x per day. This gives the areas of your dog's neck a break until the following day and will drastically reduce the chances of you ever seeing a pressure sore due to the e-collar.