There are various types of dog training for your puppy at home but there are also several specialized dog training methods that you might want to dive deeper into with your pup in the future.
Let’s start with the basics (we’ll dive into specialized dog training at the end).
The first question of how you want to reward and correct your dog is fundamental for determining your individual training style.
3 Different Types of Basic Dog Training
Similar to the variety of parenting styles with children, there are quite a few different dog training methods that are employed by dog owners and trainers.
While a lot of dog trainers have strong opinions about their personal training system, it’s important to stay open-minded, even if you figured out the best training style for you personally.
Check out my recommendations on the 10 best Youtube dog training channels if you’d like to see different styles in action.
Now, let’s get to the most common types of dog training that trainers apply.
1. Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is a technique used by many dog trainers. It relies exclusively on rewarding good and wanted behavior and redirecting bad behavior.
There is no kind of harsh punishment involved and instead of correcting your dog, some trainers even go so far as to solely rely on redirecting. You train your dog through positive reinforcement by always rewarding desired behavior with treats, toys, pets, or praise.
This is a great way to teach simple commands by continuously repeating exercises and rewarding your dog for them.
Be sure to only use small treats and reduce quantity over time, so your dog won’t become dependant on them.
If your dog shows bad behavior, you will “punish” him by depriving your attention, treats, or toys for a while. Even with issues like puppy biting, there’s no physical or vocal correction involved if you’re training 100% with positive reinforcement.
In reality, most trainers and owners will end up using positive reinforcement with the occasional firm voice and correction mixed in.
You have to be extremely consistent with this training because bad behavior can easily get out of hand. If your dog pulls towards strangers and you let them pet him, this will lead him to learn that pulling gets him to what he wants.
Everyone in your house has to stick to the rules. If your kid lets the dog on the bed in his/her room and you usually don’t tolerate that, this will set your progress back.
This technique takes a lot of time and patience and is often combined with clicker training. Your dog will slowly understand what is expected of him but might not have such a big incentive not to display bad behavior.
For this kind of training, dog owners usually use e-collars that send out shocks by clicking a button.
E-collars are used to punish bad behavior in the second it occurs. This training can be seen as the opposite of purely positive training as it relies on catching bad behavior to train a dog.
The problem with e-collars is that they are often misused by inexperienced dog owners. They tend to turn up the shock level too high which can hurt the dog’s sensitive neck. Moreover, they tend to punish/reward the wrong situations.
Many professional dog trainers claim that they have seen great results with the e-collar and that you can use it without harming a dog.
But it’s also important to remember that this is just a tool – if you cannot train a dog without an e-collar, you should never buy one.
It is not a shortcut to a well-trained dog. It’s only a tool that can hone certain commands and not a torture device.
Here in Germany prone collars, e-collars and choke collars are banned because so many people cannot handle them.
If you decide you train your dog with an e-collar, he should have the basics down and you should consult a trustworthy and professional dog trainer on how to use it without hurting your dog.
3. Alpha Training
Also called “dominance training” is all about showing the dog his position in the pack. You may have heard from this technique as Ceasar Milan really popularised it.
As the alpha and pack leader, you have to show your dog that he has to subordinate himself in this social hierarchy. This involves methods like eating before your dog, going through doors first, or walking in front of your dog outside.
It may also include never getting on eye level with your dog, forcing him to get up if he is in the way, and not allowing him on furniture like the couch or bed.
In theory, this training reflects the natural instinct and desire of a wolf to fit into his pack. It’s all about learning a dog’s body language and reacting accordingly.
But just as with the e-collar training, many owners overexaggerate. Even if you accept the scientifically disputed pack theory, a wolf doesn’t frighten. Alpha wolfs don’t oppress and never use their role for bad.
You don’t want your dog to fear you, you want him to respect you. Most of the dominant techniques are outdated and shouldn’t be used anymore.
What Technique I’m Using
Many dog owners think that if you have a powerful and big dog like my Rottweiler, you should go with dominating. This is so not true as the size and breed shouldn’t be the deciding training factor when it comes to dog training.
My dog is very gentle and the most loving dog I have ever seen. She would never understand why she would have to be dominated as she never dominates any human herself.
The only “dominating” technique I use is to let her sit before she goes out of the door just to make sure she starts her walk calmly. I don’t use e-collars because I have no reason for that but I also don’t use purely positive training.
If she behaves badly, I show her with a firm “no” and show her what to do instead. When she was a puppy, depriving my attention worked really great. I don’t use clicker training and only occasionally reward with treats.
I believe in building a strong and healthy relationship with your dog. This is the most effective method that is out there.
She can trust me and I can trust her. If you want your dog to listen to you, start listening to him and find out pain points in your communication. My Rottweiler should have fun when working with me and should be able to feel safe when I am around.
You can safely see your dog as a family member and don’t have to fear that someday he will fight for the top position if he is trained well.
It is all about finding the best technique for your unique situation.
7 Types of Specialized Dog Training
Every dog has been bred for a specific purpose whether that is for herding, working, fighting, companionship or other reasons.
The dog’s incredible learning ability has made it possible for us to use certain breeds in different types of specialized dog training.
Training your dog to excel at any of the following skills takes a lot of commitment and time but it will be quite rewarding in the end. Some breeds are more suitable to perform different tasks but educating your dog in any way is advisable as basic obedience training is a must
1. Obedience Training
Obedience training is something that every dog will receive in his life. Basic obedience training usually starts 8 weeks old and includes commands like sit or stay.
Puppy obedience training should have socialization as the main focus. During this period, your puppy will positively experience as many situations as possible to boost his confidence and prepare him for the environment, including other dogs, people, places, and sounds.
But behavior training doesn’t stop at a young age.
The learned commands should be reinforced regularly and new tricks should be taught. Your dog will require daily mental stimulation as well as physical exercise. Obedience training is a great way to tire out your dog mentally while bonding with you at the same time.
You can also enroll your dog in a training class if you would like to have some guidance during the process.
I would highly recommend you to visit puppy play classes for socialization purposes. Canine interaction is mandatory for your dog’s satisfaction and social behavior.
2. Agility Training
Agility training is all about mastering the obstacles but it’s also a fun way to stimulate and tire out your dog as a hobby.
The basic agility obstacles include seesaw, tunnel, hurdle, and weave poles.
The handler must lead the dog through the obstacles by only using voice and body language. Neither touching nor luring your dog with treats is allowed.
Agility training should be started once your dog is one year old to not overstrain the developing joints. The training will vary on the temperament and size of the dog.
A timid dog will require more work to not fear certain obstacles like the tunnel. The obstacles must be adjusted to the dog’s size as giant Mastiffs might be a bit slower and small breeds might fall off certain obstacles.
You might want to join an agility class for beginners to try it out yourself and see if your dog is suited for this kind of exercise.
You will also have access to all the equipment needed and other more experienced handlers. Make sure to start with these simple and fun dog tricks.
3. Behavioral Training
Behavioral training is a bit like obedience training but it mostly focuses on the basic dog behaviors and how to solve undesired ones.
It may include housebreaking, digging, barking, chewing, biting, leash manners, coming when called and so on.
To see how well behaved your dog is, the American Kennel Club has developed a Canine Good Citizen Test (CGC) that will determine your dog’s behavior. Click on the link here if you would like to learn more about what the test involves and how you can take it.
If you are really struggling with behavioral problems you can read the resources on this blog or consult a professional behaviorist. There is nothing that can’t be solved with dedicated training and understanding.
4. Therapy Training
A therapy dog is trained to provide comfort and affection towards people in schools, hospitals, hospices, or other facilities. The classification of the therapy dog is not protected by law and they don’t have special privileges as a service dog might have.
Your dog will need to pass the AKC therapy dog test to receive the certification. Training classes will follow the certification and will prepare your dog for therapy visits.
The following traits are desired in a therapy dog:
- Well socialized
- Calm and gentle
- Friendly towards strangers
- Well behaved
- High irritant threshold
- Leash trained
Practically any dog could be a therapy dog but the Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever are the most common breeds.
Meet a proud canine citizen that helps his fellow humans:
In general, therapy dogs are able to help patients stay physically active and build their social and communication skills. Dogs can put a smile on anyone’s face that’s why we love and appre
Tracking is another great sport for dogs that just love to sniff.
Did you know that some dog breeds are especially well-equipped for scent work? Take the Bloodhound, for example. Their big ears are there to block out noises while they track scents.
For more in-depth information on how working dogs are taught to track properly, you can check this video:
Don’t forget, everybody can engage in some light tracking work and games are actually pretty easy to start as hide-and-seek games.
6. Protection Training
Protection training is a kind of dedicated obedience training. Not every dog is suited to protect and guard as certain traits should be used as basics.
Learn about the best guard dogs and what can be expected with proper training.
A protection dog should be fearless, confident, controlled, and naturally suspicious of strangers. Breeds like the German Shepherd and the Rottweiler are best suited for this job.
Do not attempt protection training without proper guidance. Guardian breeds have an instinct on how to do this and you don’t need to encourage natural suspicion of strangers.
You can take different protection training classes that most likely have some requirements like basic obedience commands such as sit, stay, and heel.
7. Service Training
You can learn more about the different types in my service dog article but the most common are guide dogs and diabetes dogs just to name a few.
To get a service dog, you will need to get a written document from your doctor or psychiatrist where your physical or mental condition is clearly stated. The service dog has to be tailored to your specific condition.
The training will depend on the type of service dog that is required.
Service dogs can be trained privately but not everyone has the ability and knowledge for such a long and dedicated training. There are many agencies out there that are training the dogs for years before handing them out.
Common dog breeds for service training are Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, German Shepherd, and the American Staffordshire Terrier.
Before Going Into Specialized Dog Training
Every specialized dog training should always come with a great understanding of your own dog. He should be able to explore his abilities at his own pace to avoid fear or boredom. Every training session should end with a reward for the dog so he will look forward to the next session.
Not every dog is suited for the same task.
Temperament can vary greatly within a breed or even a litter. Do not get frustrated if your dog cannot meet your expectations, he is not doing that to make you mad.
Prioritize your dog’s well being over the training and wait with activities like Agility until your dog is old enough.
Let me know your experiences with basic types of dog training or specialized dog training in the comments down below.