'Balanced Training' vs. 'Positive Only Training'

At the moment, there is a lot of talk about ‘Positive Only’ or ‘Force Free’ dog training.  However, thanks to consistently excellent results, more people are now talking about ‘Balanced Training'.


Here at Good-Dog, we are Proud to be ‘Balanced Trainers'.


The problem with the 'Positive Training' method is that you are not letting your dog know that he/she (from now on referred to as he) should obey you simply because you are the one in charge. Regardless of what ‘high value treat’ you use, 'Positive Training' invariably focuses on bargaining with your dog and coaxing him to obey your commands.


Dogs need a leader. Yes, your dog is your friend, but he needs you to be the one in charge – if you will not take charge, he will. If your dog knows that you are your pack’s leader, he will respond to you with love, respect, obedience and loyalty.


A 'Balanced Training' strategy is simple: actions have consequences.


It is essential for your dog to understand the consequences of his behaviour: positive actions (or welcome behaviours) such as, obeying a command, are rewarded and negative actions (unwelcome behaviours) are corrected. By giving your furry companion clarity, you provide him with the structure he needs to learn how to behave properly and safely in life.  And importantly, also comply with the law.


More About 'Balanced Training'.


'Balanced Training' has two main elements: positive reinforcement and negative correction.


It is important, however, to remember that your dog always thinks in the ‘now’ – he has no conception of ‘an hour ago’ or ‘yesterday’. 


In other words:

  • If you want your dog to understand that chewing your shoes or carpet is wrong, there is little point in telling him off upon returning home from work three hours later – he won’t have a clue what the telling off is for. Unacceptable behaviour must be corrected as it is happening.


  • If you want to praise or reward your puppy for having a wee in the garden, do it the moment he finishes, right there in the garden. If you wait for him to get back indoors, he will not associate the reward or praise he just received with the wee he had a minute or so ago. Acceptable behaviour must be praised or rewarded as it is happening.


Any parents reading this will see the similarities between children and dogs here – a dog must be taught boundaries and the difference between what’s right and wrong, just like a child needs to be taught these things.


All dogs must be taught – and it is your responsibility to lead and teach your dog.


With a 'Balanced Training' strategy, you provide clear links, reinforce positive behaviour and correct actions/negative behaviours that must be stopped.


So, Now Let's Look At 'Positive Training'.


Here are some of the most common experiences witnessed in 'Positive Training' strategies:


  • Over-and-over repetition, even chant-like recitals of commands
  • Treats, treats, nothing but treats, if they don’t work… ‘higher value’ treats
  • Bad behaviour being ignored, things that should be stopped being permitted to happen even within the class – it seems strange to ignore a problem rather than fix it…
  • Tight, rather than loose, leads during exercises
  • Distracting a dog from bad behaviour by giving treats
  • No consequences for dogs that refuse or disregard commands
  • No boundaries or structures for dogs’ behaviour
  • Treats, treats, more treats



Lack of guidance on stopping negative behaviours and a lack of boundary settings, can leave owners without effective strategies when their dogs display difficult behaviours.


What’s more, how can you be confident in your dog’s good behaviour if that behaviour can only be achieved with a treat?

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Last updated June 2024.

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