Dog training is a very popular topic right now, with people like Cesar Millan and Victoria Stilwell making a fair amount of money with their television shows, showing people how to train their dogs and how to encourage and foster good behaviour. But their methods are very different. Which is the most effective one?
Cesar Millan has gained a lot of acclaim in recent years with his dominance-based training techniques. To any layman watching his shows, it certainly looks like he gets the job done, with the pooch in question doing what he wants. It may shock you, then, to find out that his ostensibly effective techniques are based on outdated and incorrect information centred on faulty assumptions.
Dogs don’t try to dominate humans, and any training method based on that premise will inevitably fail. Additionally, many dog experts consider the training methods used to be abusive and to place many fearful dogs over threshold, shocking or frightening them to such an extent that they shut down and are unable to learn from, or truly interact with their environment anymore.
Victoria Stilwell on the other hand uses positive training methods. These have gained a lot of respect in the recent past, even though they have yet to fully penetrate a world oversaturated with punishment-based training methods that could eventually harm the connection between man and dog. Furthermore, punishment-based training offers the dog little incentive whereas the presence of a positive reward for desired behaviours motivates the dog to perform well and helps it to bond with its owner.
If you’re looking into training a new dog or puppy, clicker training is an excellent way to get started down the positive road. Victoria Stilwell’s books, or any training method based around a reward system, are an excellent place to start. The clicker allows you to mark the behaviour you wanted your dog to exhibit (for example the moment it sits down after being told to sit), which allows your dog to discern what precisely it is receiving a treat for.
Training is an unavoidable part of dog ownership. Many people are unaware that punishment-based training is on its way out and gravitate towards outdated methods that were commonly in use when they were children, but armed with this information you can make the right decision and start your dog on the path to a happy, well-trained future.