For a while, it seemed as though Cesar Milan was the authority on dog behavior. Then, criticism arose of his “alpha dog” approach to training. There were other factors involved in the criticism, but ultimately much of it comes down to varying opinions on changing a pet’s behavior. So, if you need to train your pet, what should you do?
As long as it is humane, you should do whatever works best for you and your pet. There are plenty of options to try and it may take a little time to find out which one works for you. But, it is worth it in the long term.
Positive reinforcement is a common method based on the premise that dogs and cats will remember instructions better when they are rewarded each time that they perform well. It also operates under the notion that punishment of any kind only promotes fear and does not inspire positive action.
Trainers who focus on training with this method may use verbal and hand signals, and clickers as cues, and treats and toys as rewards. When a pet does not perform properly, the trainer may ignore or re-instruct the animal in proper behavior while withholding the rewards. Some believe that this method is slower, but also believe it’s the best, safest method.
The Alpha Method
The alpha approach, made popular for many by Cesar Milan, is a more tough ownership method. It involved being more stern and only giving praise at precise moments when the animal has done something positive, and followed an order. Tools for this type of training may include:
- Choke chains and collars.
- Bite simulation via a hand grip.
- Stern authoritative sounds and motions.
This approach is not generally meant to be entirely negative; positive reinforcement is to be appropriately timed and balanced with the alpha moments.
There is some tension between pet owners who use varying methods. The important thing to remember is that no two animals respond to the exact same training. Therefore, as long as the animal is not clearly being abused, it owners must have the freedom to attempt various proven methods until they find the one that suits them. Most training can be done at home, but sometimes reaching out to a professional trainer is best, as is a talk with the vet. If your pet is showing signs of behavioral issues, we can offer help at Pet Vet Hospitals.