Seven Popular Dog Training Methods

Dog training is quite common worldwide, and no standard method can be termed the best for the pet owner and the dog. Even with the community that highlights professional dog training, there is no consensus on the best, most ethical, and effective method.

As a pet owner of a dog, it can be confusing and frustrating to know which are the best dog training methods as it is seen that many forms overlap or are used in tandem to achieve the best results.

Here we review seven popular dog training methods that are useful and can benefit many dog owners.

Scientific Training

It is challenging to define scientific-based training as the information and data on dogs keep changing. Scientific studies try to understand dogs’ nature, response to punishments and rewards, and ability to be conditioned during training.

Animal behaviorists are regularly doing new experiments and studies to understand dog psychology. Dog Trainers rely on these studies’ findings to create scientific dog training methods. 

However, Science-based training is so vast that it becomes difficult to pinpoint its exact scientific reason. Many activities used scientific methods are also used in other training methods.

Scientific trainers rely on conditioning that is more positive reinforcement and less on punishments. Many scientific trainers stress strengthening good behavior without the incentive of rewards, and they rely more on dog psychology to find the improved relationship between dogs and humans.

Imparting scientific training is best left to the professional trainers since they do plenty of research and keep updated with the latest findings.

Positive Reinforcement

This method is popularized by trainers who believe in a straightforward theory that dogs repeat good behavior followed by a reward. Bad behavior does not get acknowledgment or compensation; it is accompanied by taking away rewards such as a treat or toy. There is no need for physical punishments or harsh remands.

The training here starts with immediate giving of reward after good behavior. This helps the dog understand and associate the reward with its good behavior. Some trainers combine this method with other forms of training, such as Clicker training. A clear sign was given to the dog on completion of good behavior. The commands given are short and to the point.

The positive reinforcement training needs to be consistent; therefore, everyone should follow the same commands and reward system in the same household.

This method uses continuous rewards initially followed by intermittent rewards as behavior becomes consistent.

Clicker dog training

Clicker training works on the same principles of positive reinforcement. It depends on operant conditioning and is usually grouped with positive reinforcement instead of relying on its training method.

Complimenting good behavior and reward training with quick, sharp noise with either a whistle or a click signal the dog that good behavior is reached. The advantage of this method is that the sound signals the exact time at which the result is achieved. Even the dog knows behavior training helps shape new behavior by adding verbal commands.

The dog is conditioned to understand that a click or whistle means a reward after achieving good behavior. This method slowly shapes basic training into complicated ones. Professional trainers are known to use Clicker training.

Electronic training

This training depends on using an electric collar, and the dog is shocked when it is not performing the desired task. This type keeps a dog within boundaries without fencing or a remote-controlled collar that teaches dogs to do hunting or fieldwork.

Though these methods are used frequently, it is not the best and can be considered bad dog training methods. Dogs owners may vouch that these devices are more efficient in getting the task done and ensure fewer chances of the dog getting hurt with other mechanical devices such as choke collars. But the reality is that dogs feel stressed when wearing such collars and remain anxious. This method gives the impression that it uses punishments for bad behavior rather than rewards for good behavior.

It could be okay for professional trainers to use this method, but an average pet owner should avoid or take professional help.

Mirror or Model- Rival Training

The Model-Rival training method uses the observation method. A dog learns by observing or mimicking behaviors. A trainer can have another human perform acts of good behavior and get rewards or scolding for the opposite behavior. The dog understands the activity and gets encouraged to pick on and accomplish a task.

The Mirror training is similar except that the dog parent acts as a role model and then offers a reward for good behavior. This method helps the dog use its instinct to be active socially instead of resisting it. In short, the dog learns by example. This method is more natural and operant conditioning or positive reinforcement.

Alpha Dog or Dominance

Alpha dog or dominance training creates a relationship of dominance and submission. This method works on the theory where the dog considers the family as packs and submits themselves as the alpha while respecting the human.

The method is based on understanding the dog’s body language and responding appropriately, like showing authority and confidence when taking the dog out, eating, or moving into the house. In this training, the dog is not allowed to sit on the furniture or bed with the owner, and the owner also does not go down to eye level–signaling authority and dominance. Modern dog training methods consider this technique outdated though it can curb bad behavior.

Relationship-Based Training

This type of dog training combines different training methods, but the main focus is the relationship between humans and dogs. The method tries to fulfill the dog’s needs, foster communication, and strengthen their bond. When the dog does not follow instructions, the trainer must determine why it is not performing the desired behavior instead of giving punishment.


As a pet owner, one may find that regardless of the dog training method used, the dog’s relationship improves, the dog’s behavior improves, and the bond helps to continue further training.

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