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The only reliable method of dog training that has been proven throughout the ages and also in science (B. F. Skinner) is termed “Operant Conditioning”.

Boiled down to its most basic principles operant conditioning relies on both consequence and reward to persuade your dog to seek reward over consequence until such time as a conditioned response is formed.

Handlers should NOT use physical or painful consequences like striking the dog. This is simply abusive and will not pursaude the dog to bond with (trust) the handler which can lead to dangerous consequences for humans and others in the abused dog’s environment.

Never forget that dogs do not understand discipline in human terms. If you are relying on human standards of discipline to correct your dog’s behaviour, you’ll fail to properly train and condition your dog.

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Modern-day operant conditioning relies on verbal consequence of a powerful, short, sharp, shock of vocalisation and/or “checked corrections” which utilise equipment to humanely reinforce a correction.

Consequences and/or corrections should never cause pain, fear, confusion, anxiety or panic; Otherwise known as forcing the dog’s behaviour.

Reward systems range from food reward, touch reward (dopamine receptor), verbal (tonal) reward and toy reward; Otherwise known as persuading the dog’s behaviour. Reward systems should never become the centred reason for the dog’s behaviour.

Felix with Hector and Gus the Dachshunds

The Operant Conditioned dog is extremely reliable and well balanced; having all of their canine requirements taken care of dutifully everyday by the handler/owner.

It’s important to note that dog training relies heavily on the temperament and proper behaviour of the human trainer. A calm and neutral disposition at all times is required together with patience and understanding (empathy), correct body language and vocalisation and perhaps, most importantly, an absolute dedication to consistency, routine and regime.

As a footnote; I would also advise that anybody who is promoting the so-called “Positive Reinforcement Only” method is substituting the intellectual and scientific method of Operant Conditioning with a purely emotive belief system that whilst sounding very pleasing to a human is, nevertheless, absolutely intolerable to a canine.

While positive reinforcement may well initiate a command in terms of the dog’s natural urge to seek reward, this method does not take into account the absolute requirement for the dog to also clearly understand the difference between wanted and unwanted behaviour (the Patriarchal responsibility for pack order requires strict borders to behaviour and social interaction).

Confusion, imbalance and eventual reactivity is the likely result of Positive Reinforcement Only practices. Due to the absence of such clearly defined borders to behaviour and social interaction with Positive Reinforcement, it quickly becomes apparent that the method is not only unreliable and actually quite useless in terms of driving the dog to a balanced, conditioned and reliable response but also potentially abusive due to the polar opposite real-time requirements of Canine’s being utterly unsatisfied by the Positive Reinforcement trainer.

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