Positive Dog Training

Positive Dog Training is the only sure way to train your puppy or older Newfie, if you want his love and loyalty.

Training has come a long way in the past sixty years or so, so if you think you need to be your dog's pack leader, you need to rethink your own position and that of your dog. Unfortunately, some trainers still cling to this myth, at the expense of dogs and their welfare.

Back in the 1920's, a study was carried out using a group of unrelated, captive wolves. These brilliant researchers came up with the theory that there was an Alpha Male among the wolves, a leader to whom the others deferred.

They noticed that this "alpha" wolf always ate first and that he positioned himself higher than the others. This is where the daft idea of not allowing your dog on the sofa or bed came from - he mustn't be allowed to be higher than you.

Since that time, it has been established that wolves do not live in packs which have a leader; they live in family units where the leaders are the parent couple. Once the cubs have grown they will go off and establish their own family unit, but in the meantime, when food is scarce, it is the babies who eat first, never the parents.

Unfortunately, despite much research to the contrary, this theory has embedded itself into our culture and we still have many so-called trainers spouting this nonsense about having to be your dog's pack leader, having to dominate him

This theory has not only been discredited, but the original researcher who came up with it has stated many, many times that he was wrong!

The first thing to remember is that dogs are not wolves anyway. They are thousands of years evolved from being wolves, they do not behave like wolves, they do not live in family units, and in the wild they will fight over resources such as food, shelter and females, never will they fight to establish their leadership.

This in turn means that whilst one dog might win the much sought after food, another might win the female. There is no defined leader

How many times have you read or seen on TV that the dog will think of you as part of his pack, and that you have to establish yourself as his pack leader? To do this you are supposed to go through doors first (how many doors does a wild dog need to open?) You need to always eat first (the dog isn’t even noticing). You must not let him on the sofa! Well, how is he going to get on my lap and have a cuddle if he is not allowed on the sofa?

You may also have read or seen that your dog is trying to dominate you, that he is trying to dominate the door (no, he is just excited about visitors), he is trying to dominate you by squashing you up into the corner (no he is just after your cup of tea).

One of the silliest things I ever read was that if my dog puts both paws on my lap, he is being dominant! I would say he either wants a cuddle or he is trying to tell me something.

Dogs do not want to dominate humans.

The most damaging conclusion that came out of this original study is that the pack leader will pin another dog down, performing an "alpha roll" to let the other dog know who is boss. Pinning a dog down in this way will only intimidate and scare him into biting, as he sees this as his only defence.

They failed completely to notice that the dog positioned himself on his side or his back, as a sign of submission. This is something that a lot of dogs do as though he is saying “I don’t want a fight, you win”. No other dog is pinning him in this position and the idea of pinning your dog down to make him behave is extremely damaging, both mentally and emotionally.

Positive dog training is no different from the way people have been training wild animals for years. You would not put a shock collar on a whale, would you? Captive creatures like that will not perform tricks because some human threatens them - they will do it for rewards.

Dogs have a language all their own and it is subtle, easy for us mere humans to miss.

There are books that have been written by highly qualified experts, and they will help you to understand what your dog is actually saying. If you get his body language wrong, you will do yourself and your dog a lot of harm. Many highly qualified animal behaviourists have been studying canine behaviour for many years and they are all agreed on one thing – dogs are not pack animals. They are social creatures w who want nothing more than to be close to their humans and give them companionship. You will establish yourself as leader simply by being the one with the resources.

So, do Newfoundland dogs need special training? No. All dogs deserve to be trained using love, praise and rewards.

So what is positive dog training? It is the simple skill of giving something in return for something