My name is Stephen Durnin, I have always been around dogs ever since I can remember and I have been working with them professionally for the last 12 years. In this time I have come to realise that you CAN teach an old dog new tricks and providing you use positive training methods then not only does the dog enjoy learning new skills, manners or behaviours but that the owner enjoys teaching them too 🙂 BONUS!
I have built up an extensive knowledge and handling experience over the last 2 decades with a vast range of dogs ranging from the tiny to the huge!
Positive training doesn’t only work on small dogs with minor obedience issues – it is also by far the most effective way to treat severe anxiety and ‘red zone’ aggression cases. I regularly work with big, powerful dogs suffering from severe aggression issues. But instead of fighting aggression with aggression (a game-plan that usually results in someone getting bitten eventually), I and thousands of great positive trainers worldwide are able to truly change the way a dog feels for the rest of his life using force-free methods – not just the way he’s acting at that moment. In order to effectively manage aggression and anxiety-based issues, you must first understand why the dog is doing what he is doing and then work to address the root cause of the problem, not just suppress the symptoms with punishment.
Too often, dominance and punitive trainers misdiagnose the real cause for dogs’ behavior, meaning they apply forceful treatment protocols that are ineffective at best and very dangerous at worst. These methods often appear to ‘work’ because they do indeed stop the dog’s behavior at that moment, but this success is usually short-lived because the dog’s instincts and reactions are merely being suppressed temporarily – not truly changed. Like a human undergoing psychological treatment, there are no shortcuts to changing how one thinks and feels, and it takes time to achieve true success.
That’s not to say positive training is always slow. Indeed, people are routinely amazed at how quickly the power of positive reinforcement transforms dog behavior. The use of food as a reward in training is not bribery – food has a powerful effect on brain chemistry which encourages dogs to learn and helps them overcome emotional states such as fear and anxiety (the root cause of most aggression), so ignore those who claim that using food is bad because they simply do not understand its power.. Positive training isn’t all about using treats though. I encourage people to use whatever reward motivates their dog, whether it’s praise, play, toys or life rewards like going for a walk or getting a belly rub.