So what is Concept Training??
When you are looking for a dog trainer you may come across lots of different buzzwords or phrases that trainers use to explain what approach they may have. Thankfully most popular trainers these days will advocate 'positive' or 'reward based' training rather than aversive or punishment based way of teaching behaviour. This is mainly because in recent times we have acquired a wealth of science based evidence that demonstrates that reward based or 'positive reinforcement' is much more effective in shaping behaviour, where as any aversive or punishment based learning can be less effective in changing both behaviour AND the dogs overall emotional response to things, it can also be very damaging to the dog-owner relationship.
As an IMDT professional trainer I ONLY use positive reward based training methods.
But what is concept training??
If you have heard this term at all in your search for a trainer you may be curious- and hopefully excited!
I am so passionate about spreading the word about this type of training largely because I have seen first hand the amazing results it can have in my own and my clients dogs, but also because it really empowers dog owners to deeply understand how their dog's brains work and gives them the tools to effectively reshape their behaviour in a fun, easy to implement way!
SO .... A reward based trainer will use positive reinforcement (reward) to help the dog learn certain behaviours, this could be something like a sit, down, recall or stay on a mat. All great things for the dog to learn. However, it can have it's downside as the dog may need regular prompts to ask the dog to DO something, this can be known in dog training as a 'cue'. Another common drawback is that often the dog can be brilliant in the training environment but as soon as they are in more real world settings and more challenging environments the rewards may not cut it and the behaviour fails.
In concept training we also use positive rewards but we aim to reshape the dogs brain by using games to grow value in things like focus, impulse control, confidence, optimism and the big one that many dogs need CALMNESS! One mega bonus of this type of training is that the dog learns to make great choices themselves- rather than constantly needing our prompts, so is excellent for building a bit more independence and confidence, this is so important for dogs of a nervous or anxious nature.
Another huge bonus of using a concept training approach is that we train FOR the situation not IN the situation, so for many dogs who struggle with anxiety means they can train with their owners in a completely safe, relaxed environment rather than taking the more traditional approach of putting dogs in situations where we know they will be faced by their triggers and hoping to change how they feel about those triggers. This is often where we see more success in using a concept based approach as we now know from many science backed studies that stress hormones will block the learning pathways in the dogs brain and therefore make it much harder for them to build new skills and emotional responses to things.
SO.. by opting for a concept based training approach you are setting your dog up for success right from the start!