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A Comprehensive Guide to Balanced Dog Training

Photo by andrescarlofotografia on Pixabay

Dog training is a fundamental aspect of owning a pet. It ensures the harmony between the owner and the pet, and it also helps maintain a peaceful environment at home. However, when faced with aggressive dogs, the need for a more sophisticated approach arises. That's where balanced dog training comes into play.

An Introduction to Balanced Dog Training

Balanced dog training is a method that uses a combination of positive reinforcement and corrections to teach dogs desired behaviors. This approach is often the go-to for trainers dealing with aggressive dogs, as it offers an effective way to communicate with dogs who exhibit challenging behaviors.

It's a journey that begins with struggles but ultimately leads to a greater understanding of dogs and their behaviors. The story of Laila, a dog initially unwanted by her owner, perfectly signifies this journey. Her owner's struggle with her disobedience, running away tendencies, and difficulty in training her introduced the owner to balanced dog training.

Understanding Balanced Dog Training

The concept of balanced dog training revolves around the use of both rewards and corrections. The training method employs tools like e-collars and prong collars to deliver these corrections and rewards. The idea is to teach the dogs that their choices can either result in discomfort or reward.

This method of training incorporates all four quadrants of operant conditioning:

1. Positive Reinforcement (R+): It involves adding something to increase the frequency of a behavior. For instance, rewarding a dog with a treat when they sit.

2. Negative Reinforcement (R-): It involves removing something to increase the frequency of a behavior. For example, applying upward pressure on a prong collar when asking a dog to sit, and then releasing the pressure once the dog sits.

3. Positive Punishment (P+): It involves adding something to decrease the frequency of a behavior. For instance, administering an e-collar stimulation when the dog chases a squirrel, to discourage the behavior.

4. Negative Punishment (P-): It involves removing something to decrease the frequency of a behavior. For example, removing attention from a dog when they jump on you, to discourage such actions.

Balanced Training: A Journey of Discovery

The journey towards balanced dog training often begins with a series of trials and errors. Dog owners tend to try various methods before landing on a balanced approach. For instance, Laila's owner initially tried positive reinforcement only. However, despite implementing techniques from renowned dog trainers, the results were inconsistent.

The owner's struggle with Laila's disobedience led to the use of forceful methods out of frustration. But as the owner learned more about balanced training, they realized that their frustration with Laila led to actions that were far more cruel than a moment of discomfort from a collar pop or e-collar stim.

Childhood Memories and Balanced Training

Sometimes, it's the past that guides us towards the right path. Laila's owner remembered a childhood incident where her uncle used a chain collar and e-collar to train his dog, Noogie. The memory served as a turning point, helping the owner realize that balanced training tools could be humane and effective when used correctly.

Training Attempts and Setbacks

Like any journey, the path to balanced training wasn't smooth. There were training attempts that didn't yield satisfying results. For instance, Laila's owner tried a different training method with a rescue trainer, which involved a martingale collar and removing privileges at home. While it had some positive effects, it wasn't enough to bring about the desired change.

Embracing Balanced Training

Despite the setbacks, the pursuit for balanced training didn't stop. Laila's owner found a balanced trainer in Spain and started attending lessons. The results were promising. Using a prong collar led to an immediate improvement in Laila's behaviour, and the owner's control over her.

However, the training had to be terminated due to personal reasons. Yet, the experience laid the foundation for future endeavors with balanced training.

Balanced Training with a New Dog

Back in the Pacific Northwest, Laila's owner adopted a new dog, Sitka. Given the previous experiences, the owner decided to use balanced training right from the start. Sitka had severe behavioral issues, including whining, inability to walk on a leash, chasing small creatures, leash reactivity, and resource guarding.

However, within just two months of working with a balanced trainer, most of these issues were either resolved or improved significantly. This was a testament to the effectiveness of balanced dog training.

Debunking Myths about Balanced Training

While balanced dog training has proven to be effective, it's often met with criticism. Some argue that it's not science-based and that the use of tools like prong and e-collars is cruel and painful. However, when used correctly, these tools offer an effective way to communicate with dogs and train them.

Overlap Between Balanced Training and Force-Free Training

Interestingly, balanced training and force-free training share many techniques. Both methods encourage play, use reward-based methods, teach boundaries, use clickers, value praise, incorporate marker training, and use motivation to create behavior.

Balanced Training: A Personal Preference

Choosing a training method often comes down to personal preference and the specific needs of the dog. Some owners may prefer force-free training, while others might lean towards balanced training. What's crucial is finding a method that works best for both the owner and the dog.

Tools Used in Balanced Training

The tools used in balanced training include prong collars and e-collars. The Herm Sprenger Prong Collar and the E-collar Technologies ME-300 Micro Educator Remote E-Collar are some of the popular choices.

However, it's essential to remember that these tools should be used under professional guidance to avoid incorrect usage that could potentially harm the dog.


Balanced dog training provides an effective way to handle and train aggressive dogs. It combines positive reinforcement and corrections to teach desired behaviors. While it's often met with criticism, the method has proven results. However, like any other training method, balanced training should be used under professional guidance and tailored to fit the specific needs of each dog.

Have you tried balanced training before? How has your perspective on balanced training changed after reading this article?

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