ITS NOT JUST ABOUT TREATS
The ideal training program is one that uses a wide variety of rewards, from food and play to access and attention, including praise. By adjusting the type of reward to each individual dog and the training environment, your dog learns that you are the gateway to all things good and that working for you is the best way to get what they want.
A WORD ABOUT AVERSIVES
If a product or training tool works by applying something - a loud sound, a bad smell, an uncomfortable or painful sensation - that the dog doesn't like, it's aversive.
This would include prong collars, shock collars, citronella spray, etc.
The potential for damaging the relationship between you and your dog are very high when these tools are used, and most of the time they are not effective -
Aversive products function by suppressing behavior. They don't teach behavior. Spraying a burst of air at a dog doesn't teach them what to do, it just teaches them that what they just did results in something unpleasant.
All behavior serves a purpose. Whether the dog is barking, pulling on leash, or jumping on guests, the behavior is driven by something. Barking makes the mail carrier go away. Pulling on the leash gets them to the next tree faster. Jumping on guests gets attention. Suppressing the behavior doesn't change the motivation.
Training is about replacing those impulses with behavior that we find more appropriate. A can of air won't teach a dog to lie on a mat when guests enter. A citronella collar won't teach a dog to walk at your side while other dogs pass by.
1. Will this change how my dog feels about this situation?
2. Will it teach my dog what I'd like him to do, instead?
3. Wouldn't you rather teach your dog what the CORRECT response is, rather than inflicting pain for behavior you don't want?
****Remember, behavior that is rewarded will be repeated.****
AVERSIVES AND PUNISHMENT AREN'T THE SAME
I once came across an article online that claimed to fix any behavior problem using a noisemaker (in this case, pennies taped in a can). In the comments section, a woman wrote, "Works great!" Two months later, she replied to her own comment, "Only worked for a few weeks."
What happened? Well, maybe the dog was barking at the window and the woman rattled her can, which startled the dog and interrupted the barking. After a few weeks, the noise was no longer novel and it didn't lead to any consequences one way or the other, so the dog stopped responding.
By definition, punishment leads to a decrease in the frequency or intensity of behavior. If that isn't happening, the behavior isn't being punished. The dog is just being subjected to an aversive. At best, it's nagging. At worst, it's abuse.