positive vs dominance training

Dog training is controversial. There are many who swear by some methods, while their proclamations will quickly be backlashed (is that a word?) by a billion studies by random sources claiming why those methods are inaccurate. We all love our dogs and want what's best for them, and we want to make sure we're teaching them the best we can.

Let's take an everyday situation and see how a positive trainer vs a dominance-based trainer would handle it:

A dog refuses to listen to the owner on walks, pulls after everything he sees, strains on the leash, is constantly whining and barking.

Positive trainer: Lure the dog to him during stressful situation and reward when the dog focuses on him instead of trigger, practice until second nature

Dominance trainer: Give the dog a quick blow to the side, yells at the dog, scolds the dog, tries to pull the constantly straining dog away, may put a painful shock collar, choke collar, or prong collar on dog's neck to teach with pain

Positive training: 1
Dominance training 1

The dog learned better with positive training, wasn't hurt, shocked, or his bond with his owner wasn't shaken like it would be with the dominance trainer's methods.

A dog barks every time someone knocks at the door or comes into the house.

Positive trainer: Reward the dog for focusing on him, takes the dog to his bed or crate with a chew toy or Kong, rewards when the dog stays and is calm

Dominance trainer: Yell at the dog, pull the dog away, lock the dog in a room or crate increasing the dog's anxiety and frustration

The dog got some yummy rewards in the process of learning it's okay to be calm and relaxed when someone exciting and new comes over instead of being emotionally harmed even more. Plus, the dog can still be part of the festivities instead of being locked up somewhere!

Positive trainer: 2
Dominance trainer: 0

A dog is being pet by a few neighborhood children, and he begins to growl and show his teeth at one of them.

Positive trainer: Assess the cause behind the dog's growling (did the dog show signs of fear such as lip licking, flattened ears, yawning, etc. beforehand?), reward the dog whenever he is calm when approached with what triggers him, educate the children on how to act around the dog, overtime help the dog to gain confidence in his anxiety

Dominance trainer: Immediately assume the dog is aggressive, hit him, scold him, pull him away from the situation

The positive trainer took the time to find out why the dog was acting like he did and helped the dog to overcome his fear, along with offering some rewards and reinforcement to help the dog desire to learn what's expected of him. The dominance trainer didn't take a moment to look deeper into the dog's problem, but unprofessionally and ignorantly decided that growling=aggression so the dog must be "dominated" and put into "submission".

Positive trainer: 3
Dominance trainer: 0

Don't you get it? Why not take the beautiful bond we have with our dogs and help our dogs overcome their problems by using that unbreakable friendship? Why on earth would we pretend our dogs are wolves that rely only on instinct and need to be punished for everything they do, even if we never showed them how to behave instead?

Positive training always wins. It's based on science, it's based on the love we share with our dogs, and it's based on teaching our dogs what to do instead of what not to do.


  1. Very well written. Thats the training method (positive and clicker) that we have gone with and I love how well My lucy has responded. She gets so excited to see the clicker come out.



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