What Is Balanced Dog Training?

If you have been trying to navigate the dog training world in order to find the best training methods, you may be more confused than ever. We totally get it! There are several schools of thought when it comes to dog training, and all of them can be extremely polarizing between experts in the field. You’ve probably stumbled across quite a bit of information about “positive reinforcement” and “aversiveness training”. There is also Mirror Training, Dominance Training, and Science Training. Those are just a few of the methods you may have seen. 

The field of dog behavior is always changing, and as we learn more about how dogs react and experience the world, we adjust our methods accordingly. What if training isn’t an all-or-nothing situation? Could it be possible that all training methods have benefits that can be combined? Maybe it’s time to take a more balanced approach to dog training. 


The Four Quadrants Of Dog Training

If you have ever taken a psychology class, then you have probably heard all these terms before. While psychology is all in reference to conditioning, or training, people, the same theories can be applied in dog training!

Very important note: Remember, in this context, “positive” and “negative” don’t mean “good” or “bad” but instead refer to the addition or removal of something. Positive means addition. Negative means removal.

dog training methods from cosmic home & pet

Positive Reinforcement- Rewarding desirable behavior is the main tenant of positive reinforcement. Rewards increase the chances of the behavior being repeated. 

Example: You give your dog treats and/or attention when all four paws are on the ground, not jumping up.

Negative Reinforcement- This means removing something undesirable to encourage good behavior.

Example: You take away something bad i.e. hitting, shock, etc. when they are not jumping up.

Positive Punishment- If an undesirable behavior is performed, then something punitive is added. The addition of a punitive negative is meant to prevent repetition of the bad habit. 

Example: You give something bad i.e. hit them, shock them, etc.) when they are jumping up.

Negative Punishment- If your dog does something undesirable, then something good is removed. This should dissuade them from repeating the same undesirable behavior. 

Example: You do not give your dog any attention (or treats) while they are jumping up.

Positive reinforcement training relies on the first and last quadrants: Positive Reinforcement (rewarding desirable behavior) and Negative Punishment (removing good to dissuade undesirable behavior). In this case, Negative Punishment is generally the removal of attention until the behavior stops. 

Aversiveness training, another popular method, leans heavily on the Negative Reinforcement and Positive Punishment quadrants. This means This method of training is controversial due to the negative outcomes that can be associated with some of the methods that are used. 


What is Balanced Dog Training?

Balanced training is exactly what it sounds like. It is a balance of the above methods. And it naturally steers clear of any extremes in order to avoid drawbacks.

dog training balanced dog training in seattle

Positive Reinforcement training can be difficult to maintain without an incentive, and Negative Punishment is often used incorrectly, or not at all, leading to a confused dog. 

Aversiveness training has been linked to a negative psychological impact. This is especially true when tools such as an e-collar are used incorrectly. If used too forcefully, or without making sure the dog knows why he’s being punished, of course, you will get some poor outcomes.

This is why many dog trainers use and prefer a balanced training method. It’s the best of both worlds!


Why Consider Balanced Dog Training?

When using balanced training, trainers are careful to make sure the dog knows what they’re supposed to be doing. With balanced training, positive reinforcement is used heavily, especially in the early stages when expectations are being set. Corrections are usually introduced later in training, once your dog has a firm grasp of which behaviors are desirable. 

Balanced training takes the personality of the individual dog into account. It is about being open-minded and recognizing that each dog will respond differently to various training techniques. It respects your dog by recognizing their individuality.

Balanced training does use consequences, or corrections, because this is what dogs use in their natural environment!

On their own, dogs give out Positive Punishments to one another regularly. They might nip or growl to tell another dog that their behavior is undesirable. Social dogs, in fact, correct each other daily. Their corrections are not abusive or mean. Instead, they are a healthy and natural part of their communication.

Balanced training mimics this. With any corrections, the point is not to cause pain or distress. Instead, it’s meant to be a course correction that they can actually understand.

seattle dogs playing corrections

Punishments used while practicing balanced training are not meant to “break” your dog. And contrary to popular belief, the goal is not to “show them who’s boss” or set yourself up as alpha. Instead, these corrections helps establish boundaries and do so in a well-rounded way that doesn’t depend wholly upon one method that your dog may not respond to. 

Balanced training utilizes a number of training tools that are used in other popular methods. It can incorporate clicker training, treats, prong collars, or whichever tool is appropriate for the dog, the circumstances, and the environment. While working with your dog, you will, over time, find the methods that work the best. You can then focus on utilizing these to help your dog get the most out of their training. 

Remember, a well-trained dog is a happy dog. Our dogs are constantly doing their best to please us. Helping them understand our boundaries and expectations is the responsibility we take on as dog owners. Whichever method you feel is right for you, make sure you work with a certified trainer who can teach you how to better understand your dog and can help tailor a training program that will give you a well-trained, well rounded dog. 


Balanced Dog Training at Cosmic Home & Pet in Seattle

Cosmic Home & Pet is a balanced dog trainer serving the Seattle Area. Our certified trainer, Brea, believes in approaching training from a holistic standpoint. Her focus is not only on a well-trained dog but on helping you build a stronger bond with your dog. Read more about her and her experience here. 

Plus, be sure to check out our Testimonials page to see what our amazing clients have to say!



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