What is force free training?

You’ve heard of force free training.

You know it’s the modern way to train your dog.

You hear trainers refer to reward based training.

You commonly hear of positive training……

But do you really know what this all means?

Force free training, otherwise know as positive reinforcement is a form of training that focuses on rewarding your dog for the behaviour you want and ignoring the behaviour you don’t want. This type of training is backed by the latest scientific studies and research. This can be done using food, toys, praise or anything else your dog loves to mark the desired behaviour.

Cassie learning loose lead walking using positive training methods

Will it make my dog more fearful?

People sometimes think it can be used to reinforce fear but that’s not true. You can’t reinforce fear. A good example to use is by imagining you are scared of flying but you love cake. If I fed you cake all the way to Spain (apart from making you feel a bit sick!) would that make you more afraid or would you think “actually I don’t mind flying so much if I get cake all of the time!”. It’s the same theory for your dog. It’s a matter of changing their perspective of the situation.

Will my dog put on weight?

A question I often get asked is “will this type if training make my dog overweight?” Not if you do it correctly. Obesity in dogs is very common and it can have major long term implications. You don’t have to use treats, you can use your dog’s everyday food, you can use praise or you can use toys. If you use food you can gradually stop using food as the behaviour improves.

What about traditional methods?

Traditional training would focus on hierarchy in the household, punishing the dog and possibly using aversive tools. These methods and tools will include shock collars, prong collars, pet corrector spray, slip leads, pinning a dog down, being the boss of your dog, and so many other things that could do long term mental and physical damage. Sadly as this training method has been used for such a long time people still believe it to be correct and is still used by some trainers today.

Luckily scientific studies have proven force free training has longer lasting results, is ethical and will result in a better relationship between you and your dog.

Even the pack theory has been discredited by the very man that wrote the original study, Dr. David L. Mech. You can see a short YouTube clip from him by clicking the link below.


How can I be sure a trainer is force free?

Look at their qualifications and credentials, these should all be displayed on their website.

Look at what organisations they belong too. Surprisingly even some of the big organisations use some aversive training methods.

Speak to them. Ask questions. All good trainers will be more than happy to talk you through their methods and training techniques.

I am proud to call myself a force free trainer and I will never use any aversive methods as I believe training should be just as much fun for the dog as it is for the owner.


If you have any questions about this or any of my other blogs feel free to email me info@theipswichdogtrainer.com

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