THE “BALANCED” APPROACH
The DOGTRAIN approach is to help our dogs as much as possible by giving them all of the available information needed to do what we ask. All of us like to know when we are doing something correctly and that it is appreciated. All of us need to know when we are doing something incorrectly, so we can modify our behavior. Dogs are no different from us in those respects, and the more accurately we can mark this information for the puppy, the more reliable his behavior will be. This is clarity. Imagine setting out on a driving trip from North Carolina to California. Should your navigator tell you only when you are going the right direction or only when you are going the wrong direction? If you can get all of the available information, you will be able to make the trip in a timely, efficient manner.
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By telling your puppy he has done what you asked and rewarding promptly, you have established the structure of the training relationship you will use throughout his life. When your puppy can accurately identify what you like or dislike, it will greatly improve the odds that you will both be happy!
Generally, information given should be in the following percentages:
75% positive ~ praise, physical attention and food, toy or play rewards
20% negative ~ wrong, try again, redirect, time out, or withdrawal of attention
5% ~ NO! Don’t ever do that again! If use of “no” paired with an informative correction to your puppy is over the 5% mark, you need to try harder to “set up for success.”
If you are not providing 75% positive input to your puppy, you are setting up yourself and (more importantly) your puppy for failure. Any time you are having a problem getting the right response from your puppy, try to analyze the situation. You may be asking more than he is capable of so you need to simplify or break down your request into smaller increments. You may not be in a proper frame of mind for training. Chances are you can find a way to break the exercise into a simpler format, and re-teach the behavior one piece at a time.
What does balanced training mean to you? What does it mean to your puppy?