Ethology-based Dog Training Techniques: A Review



Dog trainers in Brisbane and in the rest of the world have developed their training methodologies over hundreds of generations and the resultant list of present day dog training techniques is endless. Suitable training methods vary by breed, geographical location, the nature and intended purpose of the training and a number of other factors. The method that we are about to discuss today is one that was developed and popularized around the 80’s in North America.


What is Ethology?


Ethology is a study of the behaviour of a certain species within a certain natural selection. When it comes to dogs, ethologists determine and predict the way a dog might react to a certain stimulus. Knowing their input and utilising their research into dog training leads to more specific results as well as decreases incidences of failure.


Researching into dog ethology comprises primarily of looking back at the ancestry of the current specie of a particular dog. This is done both through literature and via the testing of canine DNA. It tells scientists how long particular specie of dog has been in the vicinity of civilised human beings. It is known that dogs domesticate over subsequent generations, and hence dogs that have been domesticated for hundreds of generations are easier to train.


On the other hand, dogs that have been domesticated fairly recently, and dogs that come from a long ancestry of being wild hunters, require a very different approach towards dog training. These dogs often pledge their allegiance instinctively to a pack leader, since just like wolves, dogs live in packs in the forest. Most ethology-based dog trainers in Brisbane advocate cultivating a relationship with the canine to be trained that helps them identify with their trainer as the leader of the pack. If the dog identifies you as the alpha, the leader, then it is more likely to obey your commands.


Potential for Application


Two of the most famous names when it comes to dog ethology based training are those of Cesar Milan and Jan Fennell. Fennell’s legendary show “The Dog Whisperer” relies on significant amounts of research input from canine ethology. But the research does not stop there – a number of scientists and authors have looked into the area with the objective of making a significant addition to our understanding of how dogs think. However, the problem with using dog ethology is that the training method differs from author to author and there is no standardization by virtue of which the effectiveness of individual training methods can be measured.


New research turns up multiple times a year on the nebulous workings of a dog’s mind. Repeatable experiments and persuasive cases are rare, but they do exist. Dog trainers in Brisbane often specialise in ethology based dog training and would incorporate known and relatively effective techniques to dogs wherever possible.


Quite naturally, this aspect of dog training is intricate and hitherto, largely unexplored by mankind. One hopes that time and development will lead to a point where dog training in Brisbane will use communication methods with dogs that are as simple as communication between humans.

Negative Dog Training Techniques: An Assessment



Dog training, along with dogs themselves, has evolved over the decades and there are a numerous set of tactics that you can use on your dog to illicit desirable results. However, a common debate among dog owners and dog trainers in Queensland as well as researchers into canine psychology seems to be the debate between the championing of negative training over its positive counterparts. In this article, we will introduce negative dog training techniques and focus on its advantages and disadvantages.


What is Negative Training?


In a word, negative training is punishment. It is the method that humans have used to train dogs for centuries, although it is not established in its effectiveness. Here is how it works – every time the dog disobeys you, you punish it. “Punishment” is usually physical and immediate and can span over a number of techniques including spiked collars, choke collars, shock collars, or even beating or straining a dog. Punishment or negative reinforcement only works in certain situations and can lead to complications and even harm in others. Here are some examples to illustrate this:


• When Punishment Works


Dogs don’t like it when you put weight on their shoulder blades and this can be used as a punishment. If your dog refuses to assume the “down” position on command, putting some weight on its shoulders with your hands will often do the trick – the dog will soon associate assuming the down position with the weight alleviating from its shoulders and will learn to follow your order.


• When Punishment Harms


Let’s say your dog jumps on to the bed and you beat it or shout at it aggressively as punishment. While the dog will probably immediately jump off the bed in response, studies have shown that this doesn’t imply that such an instance will never occur again, mainly because the dog has not suitably associated the act of jumping on the bed with the chastisement. It is more likely that the dog will fear you, get very anxious in your presence, or even bite you. In some cases, the dog might actually develop a phobia of beds. This is however overly SIMPLISTIC – both negative & Positive re-inforcement are necessary, timing and circumstance dictate which is most applicable.


So, is negative dog training the right way to train your dog? Well, it depends. Negative training gained voluminous popularity in the early 1900s when dogs were trained for the purpose of the first and second world wars in large numbers. Negative reinforcement, when done right, delivers immediate results and are hence an option when time is a factor. It is also the go-to method for certain dogs that are instinctively aggressive and difficult to tame pacifically.


However, negative reinforcement has developed a bad connotation in the 21st century for being violent and barbaric. Most dogs of today’s generation will respond just as easily to other, more peaceful methods of dog professional training in Queensland such as clicker training and positive reinforcement, and causing physical and emotional distress to a canine is now considered unnecessary and superfluous. Keep visiting our blog for a more comprehensive evaluation of these new and effective training techniques.