"You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us."
- Robert Louis Stevenson
Trudi meets Victoria Stillwell from the TV show "It's Me or the Dog" at the 2010 Association of Pet Dog Trainers Conference after attending her seminar in Atlanta, Georgia.
Golden Companion Dog Training believes it is vitally important for owners to give their dogs the opportunities and the tools they need to live successfully in a human world. A dog that is given consistent guidance from an early age grows up to be a confident dog. Education brings security, security brings confidence, and a confident dog has no need to show anxiety-based behaviors.
Modern behavioral science has proven that forceful or "dominance" handling such as physical punishment, leash yanking, or making a dog submit by rolling it on its back is psychologically damaging for the dog and has potentially dangerous consequences for owners. Instead, the most successful modern training theories suggest that reinforcing good behavior with rewards while using constructive discipline is much more successful. Positive reinforcement such as giving the dog a reward in the form of praise, play, food, toys, etc. when it responds and offers an action or a behavior that you like has been shown to be the most effective way to train a dog. It has been proven that rewarding good behavior will increase the likelihood of that behavior being repeated. Similarly, the use of constructive discipline like marking bad behavior by using vocal sounds to interrupt the behavior and refocus the dog onto something more positive, ‘time-outs’ or simply ignoring the dog, ensures that the dog learns which behavior is linked to the negative consequences of the discipline and is therefore less likely to repeat the behavior.
The strongest relationships between dogs and humans are based on cooperation and kindness rather than a human dominance/animal submission methodology, which is central to outdated traditional training methods. Positive training helps to establish and maintain a connection that increases trust and therefore creates a stronger bond between dog and owner, because if your dog feels good about you, he will be a happier, more confident and better-behaved dog. Ultimately, positive training results in a dog who follows an owner because it wants to rather than following out of fear, while traditional training uses punitive methods to force a dog to behave, often resulting in a ‘quick fix’ that never truly identifies the root cause of the misbehavior while promoting insecurity and negative behavior.