Positive Reinforcement, Avoidance Conditioning
It is important to understand the training philosophy of any trainer you choose. We believe that dogs should enjoy training, and that the partnership between a dog and his/her person is essential. However, we also believe that dogs need to have boundaries- especially because we are training service dogs. Training pets and training service dogs is 2 very different things. A pet can disobey without huge consequences, but if a service dog refuses to listen, it can cause great harm to their person. This is the reason we use positive reinforcement as well as avoidance conditioning.
At American Service Dogs, all commands are initially taught with positive motivation only. The dog is lured into certain positions, such as “sit” or “down”, then is rewarded with either treats, a favorite toy, or verbal and physical praise. Only once the dog responds consistently to the positive (we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the dog knows the command), but chooses not to act, is the correction added.
Determining what level of negative reinforcement a dog needs is a very delicate task and should be approached with care. Some dogs will submit to authority with just a simple “accchhht” in a firm and low voice – but with most dogs a quick tug on the leash is all that is needed.
Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions!
American Service Dogs