Does Dog Training Always Have to End on a Good Note?

thanks hdwallpapersfan for the photo!

Does dog training always have to end on a good note; this was a very interesting question that was recently posed in a dog training forum I am a part of and I thought it was really thought provoking.

So think about it, does your training always need to end positive or on a good note?

I think we get use to thinking that the answer is YES.

When I was a young trainer I was always told to end training on a good note, but in most respects we were not training in the most positive manner.

This was back in the day when yank and pull and force was the most popular way to train a dog.

When there is a lot of force or compulsion there is a lot of conflict.

The dog doesn’t understand (in a lot of cases) he feels pain or discomfort so he complies but it isn’t a lot of fun.

Even if you pair treats with the leash corrections, electric shock, or whatever way you are forcing the dog there is still conflict.  You are taking the choice out of it for the most part or forcing the dog until the dog chooses what you are trying to teach at which time the pain or discomfort stops and a treat is delivered.

I believe that there is still a great deal of conflict going on in a dog’s mind even if a treat is given or a toy is played with after the fact.

So in this case, I would say YES, yes, yes, you would need to end the training session on a good note.

You are forcing the dog to comply if he doesn’t listen anyway, so you should definitely end with a treat or a toy, or a game so that the dog doesn’t feel totally defeated.

However I Don’t Like Compulsion, Corrections, Punishment or Force

happy faceI don’t like the conflict that force brings to our relationship.

I believe in teaching and rewarding behaviors as they happen or as I lure or capture them.

I also want a thinking dog, and I think that dogs that are constantly forced to comply or show certain behaviors are less likely to think and problems solve and that makes them harder or more difficult to train to do complex behaviors.

AND  I Like a Dog to Perform Complex Behaviors

Simple obedience is great, but I like a dog that can perform a high level of obedience and lots of complex other behaviors.

Dogs that are constantly forced to comply with obedience have trouble grasping complex behaviors or are worried about getting corrections or pain if they make a mistake.

I don’t want my dog to feel that way; I want my dog to know it is not a big deal if she makes a mistake.

I Don’t Always End Dog Training on a Good Note

I don’t always end my dog training on a good note, sounds weird right?

The idea sounds so counter intuitive to what we have always heard.

But what happens when my dog doesn’t listen?

How Do I Correct a Dog that Isn’t Listening if I Don’t Use Compulsion or Force?

Crates aren't to be used as punishment; but they can be used for a time out!

Crates aren’t to be used as punishment; but they can be used for a time out!

How do I correct a dog that isn’t listening or ignores my commands if I don’t use compulsion?

I end my training that is how I teach my dog to listen.

I take away my dog’s favorite thing; which is interaction with me and training.

So, in this particular instance we don’t end on a good note.  In fact, in this instance we end kind of on a negative note.

Although I use positive reinforcement, I can’t let my dog get away with murder(so to speak) so that doesn’t mean that everything is always positive.

Sometimes I take away what she wants!

It sounds so simple, but all it takes is a couple times of losing what you really want and you have a desire to listen!

It’s Just Good Parenting

I have a friend that I very much respect as a parent, and even when h

Your Dog Should Work for your Attention!!

Your Dog Should Work for your Attention!!

er baby was very young if she threatened to do something she would do it.

I remember one night sitting at a restaurant having dinner.  Her daughter was fussy and probably about 5.  She told her very simply that if she didn’t stop they would leave.

I watched her daughter think about it and continue to fuss.  Immediately she summoned the check and a couple of boxes and they left.

It was NOT what her daughter expected and I was sad too.  But I will tell you it NEVER happened again.  If she said stop or…. Her daughter respected her and did as she was told because she wanted to hang out.

My dog is the same way, if she misbehaves I take away what she wants.

It doesn’t happen very often, but usually it is all I need to get her behavior in line.

So does training always have to end on a good note?  NO sometimes there are consequences for naughty behavior.

But you have to hope it does!

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  1. Jeff H says:

    I had always learned that you want to end on a high note, but as a relatively new dog trainer, I would often make mistakes in setting up a training session and then get frustrated with myself because I knew I had botched the session and was never going to end it positively. It was a huge relief when I learned that I don’t need to end every session on a high note.

    Just make sure if you’re giving a dog a time out in a crate, she has a huge history of positive reinforcement for being in the crate. It’s still punishment (negative punishment) and you don’t want your dog to start hating the crate (and you).


  2. Alisa says:

    This article was great! Thanks, Minette. Its good to know that I can end a training session instead of trying to get what I’m asking for when I know its not working. I have a question about my 6th month old Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy. We just got him from South Africa, where he lived with a big family of 8 other dogs. He is very sweet and affectionate and is doing great with walking on a leash,focusing on me and my husband, meeting new people and learning manners and obedience. His breeder did a good job of socializing him from a young age. We have had him for just a week and 3 days ago he started acting terrified when we walked outside our gate. We live in Malawi, Africa so our street isn’t that busy, usually a couple people walking by, an occasional car and bike. For the first few days he was eager to go on walks and seemed so confident. He was never startled by any motion or sound and his body language was happy. Now he tucks his tail and shakes and tries to dart back to our gate. It is so sad to see! Nothing out of the ordinary or scary has happened on any of our previous walks, or at least nothing we saw him react to. We cannot get him to step outside the gate without him getting terrified. He isnt scared of other motion or sound in and around our house, not even things like saws and a pot that fell. The fear comes just when he goes outside the gate. We have started an attempt to counter condition him to going out the gate by giving him lots of the yummiest treats. His body is more relaxed when we do this but he still has moments of intense fear. When we do this we are just outside the gate, not pushing him to walk. I dont know what caused this. Maybe it is part of the transition from leaving his first family? Puppy adolescence? Maybe he misses having other dogs around and feels shy without them? Any help on how to help him through this would be so great. There is no such thing as a professional dog trainer where we live so that isnt an option 🙁


    Minette Reply:

    Hard to know what goes through a dog’s mind.

    Desensitizing and counter conditioning is really all you are left with; use his food ad feed him as you walk.

    Ignore him if he shakes and is scared, don’t coo or pet him while he is like this. You may have to back up, turn around, or hurry past what is bothering him but you don’t want him to think you like the behavior.

    I would also try different times of day to see if that matters.


  3. dog training says:

    Yes, dog training should end on high note. It feels good if you saw some improvements with you dog.It means all your time and effort in training are paid off.


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