The most “liked” column I have written for Dogster was about why it is critical to observe leash laws. Nearly 20,000 of you clicked that button. The article struck a nerve because owners who flout these laws exist from coast to coast. Some of them angrily responded to my article, insisting they had every right to have an off-leash dog who runs amuck and molests (“he just wants to say hi!”) other dogs and humans. Many more of you wrote to tell me about the severe physical and psychological damage your dog has suffered because of a run-in with an off-leash dog.
A professional (find one through The Pet Professional Guild) can help you train your dog to trust his environment and handler when he is on leash. Dogs can feel trapped by that lifeline. It’s vital that we teach them how we want them to behave when they see other dogs. These behaviors first must be taught in a safe, controlled setting such as a dog-training center.
The clicker is a very effective training tool, that when conditioned with a reward like food, a treat or a toy signals to your puppy that he has done something right.  The clicking sound becomes synonymous with the reward/treat once training has begun. However, your puppy has to be taught that the clicker means something and clicking alone is not reinforcing anything.
Speaking of reward, positive reinforcement refers to operant conditioning, and I won’t bore you with the details right now, but suffice it to say B.F. Skinner, one of the leading researchers on reinforcement, found that positive reinforcement (to reward good behavior) is far more superior to punishment in altering undesirable behavior because positive reinforcement results in lasting behavioral modification, and punishment changes behavior only temporarily; and presents many detrimental side effects. If the problem behavior changes temporarily, it will reappear later, and it comes with even more problem behavior! Good Behavior = Reward and Bad Behavior = Punishment, does that sound familiar? Positive reinforcement training is what exotic animal trainers have used for years to teach dolphins, whales and large cats among other animals.  You cannot force a dolphin to do what it does not want to do!
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