Positive vs Aversive Training

Should you use aversive or positive training for your dog? Learn more about the differences below.


In the world of dog training, there are almost as many methodologies as there are trainers. But what’s the right one for you; and even more importantly, your dog?

Below, we’re going to take a quick look at the important differences between Positive and Aversive Training.

Positive Training

As dog training continues to evolve, more trainers are moving to Positive or Positive Reinforcement training. Any living being (including ourselves and our dogs), tend to repeat behaviors that are rewarded. Positive training relies upon clearly defined boundaries and expectations that are rewarded with positive reinforcements including treats/food, affection or a favorite toy.

Aversive Training

An “aversive” is something a dog would prefer to avoid; typically because it’s painful, cruel, uncomfortable or even confrontational. Simply put, an aversive is identified by the effect it has on the dog which is negative in nature and primarily driven by the desire to punish the dog for an unwanted behavior regardless of potential side effects like fear, anxiety and even aggression.

Examples of aversive training include:

  • Shaking
  • Slapping or Hitting
  • Lead Jerking
  • Tapping
  • Pushing or Pulling
  • Kicking
  • Using Rattle Boxes or Bottles
  • Ear Tweaking or Pinching
  • Prong, Choke, Shock and Spray Collars

Which Method Should You Choose?

The real goal behind training is about establishing an effective form of communication with your dog. While pain and discomfort can communicate, is it really in the dog’s best interests? Dogs learn by association. Do you really want your dog to learn in an environment of fear and distrust? Wouldn’t you rather build a solid, lasting bond of trust and mutual respect with your dog that feels good to him and you?

When positive and even fun training is consistently used, your dog will associate positive rewards with each desired behavior and naturally want to do the behavior you’re asking for without fear or anxiety. Positive reinforcement will only enhance your relationship with your dog!


Resources and Additional Reading


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