Re: "Non-violent" training vs. older-school training?
The whole "compulsion vs. positive reinforcement" debate is a difficult one for many people and can result in a lot of emotional responses. Everyone has their own feelings on it and I can only give you my thoughts.
I started out as an "old-school" trainer, using Koehler methods of compulsion. Yes, we praised, but it was minimal. If a dog disobeyed (or we assumed the dog disobeyed) there was an immediate correction. If a dog acted in any way that could be construed as aggressive (grumbling or hackles up) there was an immediate correction. We had dogs that obeyed without question, without hesitation, and we thought our relationships were perfect.
I was good at compulsion training. I could take a dog and have it heeling and sitting automatically at a halt in a very short amount of time. Dogs WANT to avoid corrections and that fear of corrections makes them respond pretty fast.
I evolved over the years as I learned more about dogs, behavior, and what I truly wanted with my dogs. I found that other methods that were less compulsive and more positive got results that were just as good as far as obedience, but also allowed the dog a level of trust that was not happening in the compulsion-based methods. I never realized the extent that a dog/human relationship could reach, back in the days of correction training. But the relationship I find with my dogs when I use understanding and reinforcement is MUCH better than the old style training produced. And I had dogs that offered behaviors enthusiastically instead of robotically. I preferred that. Maybe every sit wasn't straight, and we'd lose a point or two because of an occasional crowding problem that we didn't have before, but the loss of those points was nothing compared to the gain in relationship.
So when people ask me what kind of training to use, I highly recommend basing their training on positive reinforcement and using corrections sparingly as needed. There IS a place for corrections, but to base a training method on something that the dog wants to avoid is completely unfair to the dog in my opinion. Read up on dog behavior and how to shape behaviors using a reward marker and some sort of reward (whatever it is YOUR dog likes). Play "101 games with a box" (you should be able to google this) and practice your timing with rewards. Teach your dog tricks and see how much you can get your dog to do without even having a leash on. Enjoy your dog as a companion first and if you decide to compete at some point, be sure not to let the competition make you do things to your dog that you will later regret.
As far as choke chains go - I will NOT use a choke chain on my dogs. That's what we used when I first started, and the damage you can do with a choke collar can be quite extensive (especially on a young dog or a small dog - tracheas can be crushed). There are so many alternatives out there that a choke collar is really unnecessary. And if the trainer you're going to insists on a choke chain, then I'd be willing to bet that the trainer is NOT a very positive trainer and I would NOT go to that training class. Being a "K9 trainer" is not necessarily a good recommendation. From what I see posted on this forum, many "K9 trainers" are very old school, force-based trainers and many of them are not open to other techniques.
I don't allow choke chains for training in my classes. In the advanced competition obedience classes or run-throughs, a handler can have a choke chain on since all exercises are done off-leash anyhow (and the choke chain is allowed in obedience trials). But for training, I think it's an awful collar and I'd rather see someone use a prong collar.
Melanie and the gang in Alaska
Positive 1ST! More reward, less correction makes a GREAT trainer.
Chows: Khana CD RE SD & Dora NA NAJ GSD: Tazer SDIT
Total of 2UDs 3CDXs 12CDs 2REs 8AgilityTitles 1BH Chow!
20 Yrs Training/Teaching Experience