5 Most Popular Dog Training Methods

woman hugging her chocolate lab

There are seemingly countless popular ways to train a dog, so it isn’t surprising that finding the right one for you can seem difficult. Since Houston Dog Ranch knows you’re trying to be the best pet parent you can be, we put together a list of well-known dog training methods for getting your pooch to perk up on command:

1) Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a popular method of training dogs that has seen exponential growth over the last few decades. Bo, the dog of the Obama family, was trained using such a method. The theory behind positive reinforcement is quite straightforward: dogs will repeat good behaviors when their performance is followed by a reward. Bad behavior by contrast will not allow them to get a reward, whether that be food or acknowledgment. If any correction needs to occur, it will come in the form of removing rewards; harsh reprimands or physical striking are deemed inappropriate.


2) Clicker Training

Based on operant conditioning, clicker training relies on several of the same principles as positive reinforcement does. Rather than using a verbal command, it relies on the use of a clicking device in order to make a sharp, quick noise. This audio cue is sounded once a wanted behavior is performed. The benefits of training a dog using clicker training methods are that the clicker will help clearly define the precise moment at which the desired behavior is completed and exactly when the reward is to be expected. This quickly allows dog trainers to shape new behaviors, and additionally, clicker training can also be integrated into a verbal training system.  


3) Mirror Training

The mirror method of dog training relies on the idea that dogs learn through observation. Simply put, dogs will model their behavior on what they perceive as acceptable around them. This is especially amplified when there is another dog that they can use as a mirror, or even perhaps as a rival, to compete against for resources or rewards. A dog trainer might have another human take the role of the dog’s model, praising the human for completing tasks as commanded or ignoring them and denying rewards for inappropriate behavior. This is all done in the presence of the dog who’s actually meant to be trained, so that they learn what to do correctly from the model human. This strategy can also be done with an already-trained dog as the model to expedite the reinforcement.


4) Dominance-Based Dog Training

Not necessarily as intimidating as the name sounds, this style of dog training relies on the canine’s instinctual packed mentality to foster relationships of obedience. Popularized by the dog trainer Cesar Millan, it embraces the theory that suggests dogs, originally bred from wolves, follow a strict social hierarchy. When a dog sees themselves at the top of the hierarchy, they don’t listen to anyone below. Therefore, it’s important to establish yourself at the top of your dog’s mental dominance hierarchy in order for them to properly listen to you. However, there are dog trainers today who say that this technique is outdated because new research has shown that wolves do not rely on as strict of a social hierarchy as once believed. If your dog is fearful or anxious, dominance-based dog training might not always be able to curb their bad behavior.  


5) Relationship-Based Training

Relationship-based dog training combines elements from several different dog training methods, but it focuses on an individualized approach for both humans and dogs alike. It values at its center the foundational relationships between man and dog that drive everything else. This is a dog training method that’s become popular because it drives to meet the needs of dog and trainer alike to better their communication, strengthen their bond, and instill good behaviors that are mutually beneficial. An individual must understand how to read a dog’s body language, what motivates their dog as their favored reward, and how to meet a dog’s basic physiological and psychological needs before each training session begins. In short, relationship-based dog training is a holistic method meant to develop a meaningful, deep bond between canine and humans, but it takes time and patience.

Get the Best Dog Training at Houston Dog Ranch

Our dog training experts have seen it all, from small annoyances that every dog is prone to, to unique cases of anxiety or a negative past with a previous human family. If you’re ready to realign your pooch’s behavior, then give Houston Dog Ranch a call or an email today to learn more about how we can improve your relationship! 


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See our other blogs for tips on training and care for your dog.