Force-free (reward based) Primer

If you are not familiar with Force-free methods, here’s a little primer to help you make the transition. The focus is on setting the dog up to reward behaviors we like, rather than setting the dog up to punish behaviors we don’t like.  Additionally, we always address a dog’s emotional state when training and working with dogs. We avoid putting dogs into situations where they could experience fear, distress, or anxiety. Modern research has debunked the faulty science that led people to believe that they need to dominate dogs through practices such as staring down a dog, shaking them by the scruff, forcefully pushing them into position, yanking them by the collar, and demanding that they submit by rolling over. We have adjusted our language and treatment of dogs to reflect the focus on the relationship rather than on exerting power over them. The following examples show how our language and methods are different in Force-free dog training.  

Smiling dog on a raised dog bed

In our classes you will HEAR us say,

  • Cues….not commands
  • Manners….not obedience
  • Respond….not obey
  • Needs help….not stubborn
  • Handler….not pack leader
  • Struggling…not disobedient

In our classes you will SEE us,

  • Use treats to teach a dog a position….not physically push a dog into position
  • Soften our eyes….not stare down a dog to intimidate them
  • Give a dog time to make a choice….not impatiently force a dog to comply
  • Provide a dog with more space….not correct a dog for feeling overwhelmed
  • Use small steps to teach….not flood a dog with too much all at once
  • Show a dog a better choice….not show a dog who is boss