No-Force Training a.k.a. Positive Training

2 minute read

The term no-force training draws the clearest distinction between old-school and new-school dog training methods.

No-force training means you do not force your dog into obedience. You don’t get him to sit by physically forcing him into the sit position. You don’t get him to stop jumping on your visitors by kneeing him in the stomach when he jumps. You don’t try to discourage him from eating your shoes by swatting him on the nose with a newspaper. You don't keep your dog from barking by using a shock collar.

This does not mean you never have to get physical with your dog. There may come a time when he does jump on one of your visitors and you need to fix the situation by grabbing him by the collar and pulling him off. This however, is not training. It’s what you’re reduced to when your dog hasn’t been properly trained.

Harper likes no-force training for the following reasons:

It’s effective

Ever wondered how dolphins are trained? You certainly can’t force a dolphin to jump through a hoop. The fact that no-force training is used with animals that can’t be forced to do anything—like chickens and even whales—is strong proof of its effectiveness.

It works in more situations

If you rely on force for training, what do you do when you can’t apply force? If you’re not there to apply the force? What if it’s not something that can be forced? (good luck forcing your dog to stay and not run out in traffic from 30 yards away)

It can build a behavior as well as stop a behavior

Force is typically only useful as a punishment for stopping a behavior. It’s not as useful in trying to build a behavior. (again, good luck forcing your dog to catch a frisbee)

It’s the kindest form of training

Yeah, there’s no denying that a major motivation for this form of training is it encourages being kind to animals. But if that were the only reason, it’s doubtful it’d be this popular.

The pet you love doesn’t fear you

You may think that fear is synonymous with obedience, but it often just means fear. If you train the family pet with physical force you may find the pet prefers everyone in the family over you. He will almost certainly only listen to you when you’re around, but promptly ignore anything you taught him when you’re not.