Beginning today, BestBullySticks.com is starting a new blog series! Titled “Training Tips” this section will discuss a range of topics including training methods from popular trainers and dog experts to information about dog cognition and learning. So, strap yourself in for a brief history lesson! Our first installment is A History of Dog Training! By tracing the history of human-dog companionship and discussing different ways dogs learn, BestBullySticks hopes to provide new tools to help you and your loved one get the most from each other’s company.
Canine Domestication and Early Training
Dog training began with the domestication of canines. Approximately 30,000 years ago, humans began to domesticate dogs. Originally used as a beasts of burden and guard animals, the human-canine dynamic would eventually develop into a mutually beneficial relationship we still see today. And while dogs have accompanied humans on nearly every journey since the beginning of our relationship, it wouldn’t be until the early 20th century that dog training took it’s current form.
Pre-Modern Training Methods
Pre-1900 training methods for canines while certainly well established and fit for a variety of tasks, couldn’t yet benefit from the scientific research of the modern era. Generally consisting of a reward-based system, training methods of the day were well suited for many specific tasks and primarily geared towards hunting and herding dogs. Cognitive science for canines would grow tremendously in the mid-20th century giving rise to a refined set of training systems whose sophistication and simplicity were one and the same.
While we won’t go into too much detail regarding specific training methods this week, we did want to review a couple of key players and their contributions to the development of canine cognitive sciences!
Konrad Most: Most began his career training military and service dogs in Germany, Most published one of the earliest and most compelling guides on canine instruction methods. Using a theory called “Operant Conditioning,” he utilized the natural compulsions and instinctive behaviors of animals to help guide a desired reaction and established a major cornerstone of canine training still widely used today.
Marian Breland Bailey: A scientist who furthered the Pavlovian theory of “conditioned reflex,” Bailey made particular use of the “clicker” — a small handheld noisemaker — using positive reinforcement to gradually shape a desired response through association. Bailey’s work was hugely important because of its emphasis on humane training methods moving away from the more extreme methods of Konrad Most.
William Koehler: Possibly the most well known figure among dog trainers, Koehler developed his unique system without the unnecessary verbal fluff of other training systems. Utilizing brief yet forceful physical corrections, these basic methods have come to form the core of many canine training systems of today. Founded on the idea of cause and effect the Koehler Method relies on a dog’s ability to remember in order to drive a response. We don’t touch the stove when it’s on. Why? Because chances are we have, and it hurt!
Which Method Should I Use?
The two most important things to consider when choosing a training system is your dog’s personality and your current relationship with your dog. For instance, some owners are uncomfortable using the Koehler Method — the physically reinforced elements of this system may be considered abusive by more sensitive owners. Alternatively, Bailey’s “conditioned reflex” training system is too passive for others and largely ineffective for their dog.
BestBullySticks hopes whichever system you choose, it’s one you and your pet can agree on. With everything from all-natural dog treats and chews to leashes and toys, we’ve got everything you need to get you started on your training routine!