Jackie's approach to training is commonly referred to as reward-based, balanced training. This means that she leans heavily towards using inducive training methods throughout a dog’s education. And, where appropriate, the thoughtful, deliberate and measured use of compulsion and aversives may be introduced.
Jackie believes that the use of inducive training methods, like luring and shaping, is the best way to go about training dogs to learn new things. Not only does it encourage their active participation in the process, but it also helps to build a strong bond between the trainer/owner and dog. This methodology is vastly improved by using something called a marker-system. A marker is a sound or signal that we give to animals in training which bridges the gap between a target behaviour and the delivery of their reward. This improves our timing drastically, ultimately creating clarity and speeding up the learning process.
Many people are heavily biased against the use of corrections and force in training, and with good reason. This industry has an unfortunate history of justifying some pretty brutal training techniques on such things as ‘pack leadership’ and ‘dominance’ of the human; all enormously outdated concepts. Because of this, there’s a trend for many modern trainers to intentionally avoid the use of corrections in training, under the guise of improved welfare.
Ultimately, however, corrections are often needed to interrupt or inhibit a problem behaviour. When done correctly, and particularly when part of a reward-based system of training, this will not cause any fallout and can drastically improve a dog’s understanding of the task at hand. In this way, aversives can be used to create more opportunities to reward a dog for the correct behaviour, as the problem behaviour has effectively been quashed. I invest a lot of care into helping owners learn how to properly incorporate aversives into a reward-based training system, which can include the application of a range of training tools.
Aside from this broad methodology, I ensure to practice a holistic approach to dealing with behavioural problems that include assessing a dogs’ prior training, health, diet and nutrition, exercise regime, and general lifestyle and relationship with those around them.
Aversive: Something the dog doesn’t like and wants to avoid (e.g. leash correction. A.K.A positive punishment).
Compulsion: Forcing a dog to do something (e.g. pressing down on their hips to make them sit. A.K.A negative reinforcement)
Avoidance Response: Actively avoiding something, like a snake or sheep, to prevent receiving an aversive.
Inhibition: Choosing not to engage in a behaviour. Although an inducive training program may be able to inhibit a problem behaviour by reinforcing an alternate behaviour (jumping inhibited by rewarding sitting instead), when a dog has an extensive history practicing the problem behaviour and/or when that behaviour is somehow innately/self-reinforcing (like a husky pulling on the leash), aversives may be needed to devalue the problem behaviour.