Almost everyone has heard of “positive dog training”, it’s that thing with the clicker. But let me tell you why your dog will work harder and be happier with positive training methods than other traditional methods and styles.
The brain is incredibly complex and involves millions of neurons transporting billions of molecules to and from numerous different regions that have immensely varying tasks. In the interest of time and simplicity, I will explain the two main regions of the doggie brain responsible for motivation: the nucleus accumbens (which is found in the midbrain) and the prefrontal cortex (the very front outer layer of brain tissue). All things linked to survival are hooked into these regions: food, water, sex, shelter, etc.
In a nutshell, the nucleus accumbens is a very persuasive cocaine addict while the prefrontal cortex is a very gullible friend who’s super awesome at math.
Here’s what happens…
Owner: Hi pooch! Do you want some cheese?
(Dog starts to think)
Nucleus Accumbens: Wait… did she say cheese?
Prefrontal Cortex: Yup, she said cheese.
Nucleus Accumbens: You really want cheese.
Prefrontal Cortex: Really?
Nucleus Accumbens: Really.
Prefrontal Cortex: Ok lady, I’m told I need cheese, so what do I have to do to get said, “cheese”?
Prefrontal Cortex: Uhhh sit, sit, sit, sit, AH, that’s the one where I get cheese for putting my butt on the floor!
Owner: Good Boy!!
Pre-frontal Cortex: Mmmm Nom Nom. That was tasty. Hey Nucleus, do I want to do that again?
Nucleus Accumbens: (Plastered with Dopamine) Oh yea…. Oooooooh yea…. You DEFINITELY want to do that again…
This is how all animals are motivated, by a dopamine addicted nucleus screaming at our rational problem solving forebrain (fortunately for us it’s incredibly gullible in a dog).
The power available by this innate biology is the power that can be harnessed in training. While food is the most commonly used motivator, play, games, and attention are all potent training tools that can be taken advantage of. If your dog wants something, make her work for it.
Traditional training methods talk about relationship building, but they don’t develop a positive motivation for listening to you. When you become the portal to all things good through consistency, predictability, and time, you will develop trust. This is the most important element to being a pack leader.
The Pawsitive Packleader