Positive Reinforcement, a Better Way of Dog Training

Thankfully, on the matter of training dogs, more and more professionals are using one form or another of positive reinforcement. Their methods revolve around rewarding good behaviors and ignoring undesirable ones. Rewards typically consist of one or more of the following: Food treats, words of praise and affection, or playing of favorite games.

Various methods of training that were prevalent at one time used punishment as a standard component – good behavior was rewarded and bad behavior punished.

There is good reason for the increased practice of reward-based training. For one thing, it eliminates the possibility of suffering or harm to the animal. As for effectiveness, it yields the desired behaviors while avoiding unintended ones, such as undesired demonstrations of aggression.

A Reader Writes on Her Dog Training Experience

I received an email recently from a GSD owner in Australia, in which she shared some of her experiences of getting her dogs trained. We reprint it here with her permission, with minor edits for the sake of space.

Feb, 2015

Hi Mark,

I don’t have any behavior issues with my two German Shepherds – one male and one female, both aged seven. We attended the German Shepherd Club in Australia when the dogs were young and with our first Shepherd for four years. I noticed a vast difference between the first dog and our dogs now. Initially we trained our first dog with a choker chain, having been told you have to dominate the dog or they will dominate you; especially German Shepherds.

With the next two dogs we used play as a reward when training – no treats, and flat collars only. WHAT a difference! …Neither of our dogs have any behavior issues… they have never had a fight and get along extremely well. What I noticed at the German Shepherd Club (they still use aversive methods) …is that most of the dogs became very dog aggressive…
We stopped going as our male shepherd started to not enjoy the classes and instead of jumping out of the car he would put his ears back and not want go. He is an extremely playful dog and could not understand that the dogs he used to play with at the club had become aggressive towards him.

At home we have a doggy door and they come and go as they like. Being German Shepherds, the breed generally is not happy when you are not accessible, in Australia they still have the stigma of being an aggressive guard dog, I guess my message is we need more education re this breed to the general public as they are a very soft breed if they are trained with kindness and handled like any other dog.


Christine C
Canine Behavior Consultant

Thank you Christine for allowing us to reproduce your email! MM

Your Experience With Professional Dog Training

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  1. I do not agree with the punishment! When you start training your dog, you’re starting to build up a good and lovely connection between the two both of you. Understand each others feeling. Dog can feel what you feel. ^^

    • Well put Valpekurs! And that special connection does make all the difference.

  2. Hello,
    I am also in the process of moving out from the apartment I am currently living in with my 8 months old GSD, Mr. West. Apparently some neighbours think it is too scary and thus a threat to public health. On the contrary though, he is the sweetest dog I have ever seen, it is extremely well-mannered, I joined germanshepherdplace right after I got him and all the advice really helped.

    • Hi Pascal,
      Nice name, Mr West! I hope your neighbors come to realize that their fears are unfounded!
      I’m glad to know you’ve found our articles helpful. Thanks for writing
      Best Regards,

      Mark Mulock

  3. I get that all the time about my Male German Shepherd. He is beautiful has a black face and to look at him you would think twice about approaching him .When we do get approached they all say Wow! he doesn’t look too.friendly? But, he is a sweet heart and extremely friendly They all have just gotten a bad rap. Thanks Terry.