Alan Gardner – Dog Training Blog

Dog Training or Behavioural Change – What’s the Difference?

Some 20 – 25% of households in the UK own a dog, the majority of which (other than some puppy socialisation in the first few months) don’t attend formal training classes/sessions.

JD_Ju_Mat 2014

However, for some dogs their behaviour becomes unacceptable for the owners. At that stage a decision has to be made – local training classes or professional behavioural counselling? But how do you decide which one?

The easiest way to differentiate between the two is:

  • Training classes aim to teach a dog something which is not considered ‘normal’ behaviour. For example to ‘sit’ on command.
  • Behavioural work on the other hand aims to prevent a certain behaviour from happening and work towards what the owner would consider normal conduct, for example, not to lunge at another dog when out for a walk on lead.

There is a large overlap between the two disciplines. In behavioural work we employ many techniques which a trainer would use, particularly positive reinforcement to achieve our goals. Vice-versa, an experienced trainer may use some behavioural techniques including understanding the dog’s genetic make-up, experiences and also the handler’s motivation to achieve the desired outcome.

In summary, training classes usually work to a pre-determined generic goal. For example, puppy socialisation, competitive obedience/agility. In contrast behavioural work usually works with just one dog and the outcome is determined by the owner, in consultation with the professional behaviourist.

So if you have read this far and thought great, which one do I need?

If you think your issue is best addressed:

a)    With lots of other dogs and people around and you can listen to generic advice and put into practice at home yourself, then group classes are the best lower cost option.

 

b)    On a one-to-one basis where a bespoke training programme is written specifically for you, then a behaviourist is probably the best choice. Also consider that this will be a more expensive option, but worth the investment if your dog becomes a pleasure to live with again!


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