Positive reinforcement training is a great method to teach your dog new commands. This technique involves rewarding good behavior with treats or toys. Plus, it helps to create a stronger bond between owner and pet.
But is positive reinforcement training compatible with using a shock collar?
This is a top concern of many pawrents who are looking for a solution to stop unwanted behavior.
You see, there's this misconception that positive reinforcement training and shock collars are "incompatible."
Because some people believe that these two training strategies are polar opposites. In other words, there's this notion that these two training techniques contradict the other's philosophies and principles, but this couldn't be further from the truth!
In this post, we'll explain why shock collars are actually a great tool for positive reinforcement training.
So What Exactly Is Positive Reinforcement Training?
Simply put, positive reinforcement training is a form of reward-based training. It teaches dogs new behaviors by rewarding them when they do something right.
For example, if you're teaching your dog to sit down, you could use a treat as a reward for sitting. You'd give your dog a treat every time he sits down.
Rewards don't always have to come in the form of treats. They can also come in praise and lots of belly rubs.
The key here is that you're not punishing him for doing something wrong. Instead, you're reinforcing his good behavior.
Positive reinforcement for dog training is also good for your dog's emotional health because it creates a strong connection between you and your pet.
Other benefits include, but are not limited to:
- Fast learning. Dogs love being rewarded. Whether it's for their own pleasure or to make you happy, dogs thrive from rewards-based systems. Because of this, they will seek out anything that provides pleasure such as treats and belly rubs.
- Better impulse control. The instinct to be rewarded is so strong that dogs will learn to control their impulses. For example, if your dog is inclined to jump on you whenever you come home, it will eventually learn to stop jumping if you give it treats every time it stays calm. To gain the reward, your dog has to control its impulses.
- A love of learning. Dogs naturally want to please us. Combine this with stimulating rewards, and you have a strong incentive for dogs to learn. They will be excited to learn because they experience two benefits: Making us happy and earning a reward!
Again, it all comes down to having a stronger relationship and bond with your dog. The stronger that relationship, the better it will be to train your dog and stop unwanted behavior.
And What Exactly is Shock Collar Training?
This term itself is a little misleading.
"Shock collar training" isn't a program or a philosophy that you follow. Rather, shock collars are simply used as a tool. They are excellent tools because they allow your dog to understand you.
You see, dogs can sometimes have tunnel vision. They experience so much stimuli that they might forget that you're standing right by them. For example, if a squirrel suddenly runs in front of your dog, your dog's instincts are going to kick in. It's going to forget that everything else exists, and chase after the squirrel. Even if the squirrel is running into the middle of the street.
A shock collar allows you to snap your dog's attention back to you immediately.
This could be life saving.
It ensures that your dog knows you're trying to communicate with him no matter what. This tool can help you while training, which is why it's also called a training collar.
The benefits of using a small dog training collar are:
- Instant communication. Your dog will immediately know when you're trying to get its attention.
- Increased safety. You'll be better equipped to keep your dog out of trouble and danger. This is safer for both you and your pup.
- It's customizable. There are different settings (sound, vibration and shock) and intensity levels. This means you can adjust the tool for any situation.
Unfortunately, while there are many benefits of using a training collar, there are many misconceptions as well.
Some people mistakenly believe that shock collars are cruel.
They believe this because of the small minority of people that misuse the collars. Remember, shock collars are meant to grab their attention, not to hurt or punish them.
A small dog training collar should only be used for communication.
And this is why it's compatible with any training philosophy, including positive reinforcement.
In other words, a shock collar is not meant to be negative. It can't be when it's just used for communication. When set at the proper settings, it only gets your dog's attention. It shouldn’t hurt your dog. In fact, most people say it hurts less than a rubber band tapping against your palm.
So, yes, shock collars for dogs also work with positive reinforcement!
How Does a Dog Learn With Positive Reinforcement?
Dog's learn to associate positive reinforcement with something you want it to do.
For example, let's say you want to teach your puppy to come when you call his name.
First, you'd start off by saying "come". Then, you'd give it a when your dog comes to you. After that, you'd repeat the word "come" again. And again, you'd reward him for coming to you. It's about establishing a reward mechanism.
Now, if you want to teach your pup to stay put, you would first say "stay." Then, you'd give your dog a treat. Next, you'd repeat the command "stay" again. This time, you'd only reward him if he still stays in place when you back away.
Remember, your dog needs to understand two things: What you're telling him to do, and how to do it.
You can accomplish this by repeating the same command over and over until your dog learns it.
Don't worry or get frustrated that the process "isn't working." Just make sure you're consistent. It will come in time.
Your dog won't learn anything unless you're consistent.
How Can I Use a Training Collar with Positive Reinforcement?
It's as easy as using a small dog training shock collar whenever you want to get your dog's attention.
Then, use a treat to reinforce what you want your dog to do.
This way, you're teaching your dog to associate a specific behavior with a reward.
To think about it another way, positive reinforcement trains you dog to do something while a training collar allows you to communicate with your pup!
When you frame it through that perspective, then it's clear that these two things are not opposites, like some people mistakenly believe. Rather, they can be used hand in hand to foster better behavior from your dog!
There are a lot of articles that suggest there's a competition between "shock collar vs. positive reinforcement," but as we've shown, that couldn't be further from the truth!
7 Tips for Effective Dog Training Positive Reinforcement
Now that you understand more about these training principles, it's time to put them to the test! After all, these training techniques are only useful if you can implement them at home.
Here are some ideas to consider:
1) Start out slowly. Don't expect your dog to immediately respond to every command. Instead, start slow and build up to the point where your dog understands what you want. Remember, dogs can only understand up to 250 words — and that's only if you intentionally train them to understand vocabulary. This means that it might take your dog a few days or weeks to understand what certain cues and commands mean.
2) Be patient. In addition to starting out slowly, be patient with your pup. You'll need to train your dog on several occasions before he starts responding consistently. Dogs are creatures of routine and habit. Researchers claim it takes humans 66 days to form a habit. While there isn't the same research for dogs, many training professionals use 21-28 days as a good rule of thumb.
3) Keep distractions low. When you're trying to teach your dog new behaviors, keep other animals and children away from him so that he doesn't have any distractions. If your dog gets distracted, then you can use the best shock collar for extra small dogs to bring its attention back to you. Then, once your dog fully understands your commands and obeys them, you can slowly introduce distractions to ensure that he'll obey in every circumstance.
4) Give rewards often. Your dog will learn faster if you give him a reward after each successful response. It's important to remember that this is just one part of the equation. There are also times when you should forego the treats and simply praise him for doing the right thing instead. The key here is consistency. If you don't follow through with rewarding your dog through treats or praise, then he won't learn anything. So, make sure you always reward your dog after he responds correctly.
5) Use the same cues. Once your dog has learned a particular command, it's important to continue using the same cue throughout his life. For example, if you taught your dog to sit by saying “sit”, then you shouldn't change the word you say to get him to sit down. That would confuse your dog and cause him to disobey. Instead, you should continue to use the same verbal cue.
6) Make sure your dog knows who's boss. As mentioned above, dogs are creatures of habit. They tend to do things that are familiar, because it helps them feel safe. However, dogs are also creatures of curiosity. So to help your dog stay out of trouble, you must establish yourself as the leader of the pack. This means making sure your dog knows you're in charge and what you expect from him. You can accomplish this by establishing rules and boundaries. If your dog breaks those boundaries, such as going through the trash, then activate the small dog training collar to stop the unwanted behavior.
7) Practice makes perfect. Finally, practice makes perfect. Just like learning how to ride a bike, your dog needs lots of practice to master new skills. If you've been working on teaching your dog a new trick or command for weeks now, then you know exactly how much time it takes to achieve mastery. And while you may not see results overnight, you should notice an improvement over time. Even after your dog learns a command or skill, it's a good idea to practice it from time to time to fine tune your dog's behavior.
Hopefully this section helps you better understand how to use positive reinforcement to train your dog.
But this still leaves one outstanding question...
What is the best shock collar for dogs?
How to Choose the Best Small Dog Shock Collar
There are so many options on the marketplace that it's hard to know where to begin.
First, it's best to shop from a brand that you trust. What are the reviews saying? Do they offer customer support? What's their warranty offer or do they even have one?
By asking these questions upfront, you'll be better prepared to make the right choice.
Next, consider the following factors:
- Are there different settings? The best small dog shock collar allows you to customize the collar. One of the ways you can do this is through customizing the settings. For example, at Wiggle Kingdom, our collars allow you to switch between Sound, Vibrate, and Shock. This allows you to choose the best setting for your pup. We know that all dog's are different and have a different history, so this lets you customize the collar for your needs.
- Are there different intensity levels? Again, it comes down to customization options. Wiggle Kingdom training collars have 9 levels for vibration and shock. On the low end is 1, but if you need something more intense, then you can increase it up to 9. Start on the lowest level, and if your dog doesn't respond, then bump it up to the next level. Stop once you find a level that gets your dog's attention. Again, it's all about communication, not punishment or discomfort.
- Does it have a remote control? A quality remote control allows you to activate the training collar from up to 1,000 feet away. This way, even if you're not right beside your dog, you can get your dog's attention and call him back to you. This is a safety issue as well as a training issue! At Wiggle Kingdom, our remote controls are not only useful, but extremely sleek and modern looking!
Learn more about our small dog shock collar and why customers from around the world trust Wiggle Kingdom as their training collar solution.
We even go above and beyond to help you provide comfort for your dog. For example, our collars also come with rubber caps that you can put on the prongs. This helps mute the sensations of the collar.
We did this because one of the most commonly asked questions is, "Are collars uncomfortable for dogs?"
They shouldn't be, and thanks to our customization options, you can enjoy the peace of mind that they won't be when used correctly.