Dog Training Methods: Balanced and Drive styles

By Laura Pakis, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Blogger,

You probably know all about positive dog training, but there are other dog training methods which are used to help dogs change behaviors or become reliable in a working situation.  Don’t limit yourself to a one method dog trainer.  Find a dog trainer that reads and understands your dog and develops a training method that is appropriate for your needs and your dog’s personality and temperament.  You’ll be much more satisfied with the results.

Balanced training

Balance training basically means teaching a behavior using whatever positive reinforcement tools are available (capture, lure, model, shaping).  Once a dog has a clear understanding of the correct response for a cue, then corrections and escape/avoidance are introduced.  The balance lies between positive reinforcement and correction.  Balance training continues on past the point where positive reinforcement trainers stop.  The idea is making the dog accountable and responsible, with increased reliability.  The dog learns consequences of choices, and a solid work ethic.  It is not about making a dog do something they hate, but making a dog take the work seriously.  When a person’s life can hang in the balance; they cannot truly afford to have a dog who thinks it is perfectly okay to make a choice not to work.  Dogs are not robots/machines obviously.  They are fallible just as humans are.  Still we have a greater compliance if the dog is working for work’s sake instead of for an anticipation of reward.

Drive training

Drive training comes from Schutzhund training.   It is extremely positive and motivating.  The idea is to put the dog into a certain natural frame of mind where he is very focused and very eager.  A place where he is driven by strong instinctive imperatives.  There are many different drives in dogs.  Pack drive, prey drive, defense drive, to name just a few.  A strong bond between handler and dog is largely a function of pack drive.  I think drive is easiest to see in a ball-crazy dog.  A dog who will stare intently at a ball, not blinking; with muscles twitching in response to tiny, barely perceptible movements of the ball.  If you step on his tail, he won’t even notice.  If you watch Schutzhund dogs work in obedience you’ll see precise work done with a great deal of energy and animation and a HUGE smile on the dog’s face.  Drive dogs work out of love for the work.

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