Frequently asked questions

(Brad Tindall, 2020)


Imagine walking your dog being less stressful. Or having visitors over no longer embarrassing. And even chatting to neighbours a joy!
How to Train a Dog can help you do just that… and more!
All the while, building on the trust and bond between you and your dog using ethical, science-based modern training methods.

• 15 years qualified industry experience
• Fun, gentle modern and ethical training methods
• How To Train a Dog can help you make pet choices easy. *Pet owners need to be aware there is very little regulation in the pet industry.
• We come to you
• Qualified: Certificate IV in Companion Animal Management Services 2007 (Delta). The highest Australian Certificate qualification available, teaching current best practice.
• Education maintained to stay current with best practice
• Training sessions are tailored to you and your dog’s needs, whether that’s basic skills, tricks or help with behavioural concerns
• The emotional, physical and environmental well-being of each client is considered
• Listed as an approved trainer with MindDog.
• Will work with your vet or veterinary behaviourist as a team in assisting you with your dog’s behaviour
• Can refer you to qualified pet industry professionals working to current best practice


How to Train a Dog operates using positive reinforcement training methods – methods considered current best practice by the Australian Veterinary Association.
If you feel that you would be more comfortable with a traditional correctional method of training, it is likely that this type of training is not for you.

Training involves giving the dog something they want to make the behaviour more likely to occur again.
The use of positive reinforcement is the most humane and effective training method as it avoids undesirable behavioural side effects.

The same method of training is employed in our zoos to achieve husbandry compliance from animals such as lions and elephants.

Training is modern, fun and fast!


The use of positive punishment (applying something the dog doesn’t like to make behaviour less likely to occur in the future) is often a first approach used in dog training and for modifying problem behaviours. This method is not preferred by most behavioural specialists as dog training techniques that a dog doesn’t like can be dangerous to both dogs and their owners.


Trainers that describe themselves as “balanced” use punishing techniques in combination with rewards.
There are certifications that teach trainers to operate using these methods.


Force-free, or Positive Reinforcement training focuses on providing your dog something reinforcing/desirable, like a treat or praise, immediately when the desired behaviour occurs, leading to an increased likelihood of the dog doing that behaviour again. This approach applies across all species and is the most current science-based training approach. It doesn’t require you to force, hurt or intimidate your dog. Don’t trust that a trainer is force free, ensure that they are force free.

Force-free training is the latest buzzword in the dog-training field now. Ask someone if they use positive methods and they’ll say yes whether they really do or not. They know dog owners are looking for positive training techniques, so they simply say they use them. Force-free training is teaching an animal without pain, intimidation, threats, force, or coercion. It’s done without corrections, without collars (including those “vibrating” collars used to “get your dog’s attention”), and without pain.
If a trainer says they’re force-free, ask them to take all the equipment off the dog (except a leash on a flat-buckle collar, for safety) and ask the dog to work with them. Does the dog work? Does he look happy? Does the dog leave? That’s the true test—allow the dog the choice of working and then see what choice the animal makes. Trust the dog!

Don’t trust that a trainer is force-free. Ensure that they are force-free. Ask questions about what kind of equipment you’ll be required to use. Walk away if there’s a specific collar you must use such as a slip lead, prong collar, e-collar, etc. Find out what happens if your dog doesn’t want to work. What will the trainer do to get your dog to listen? Walk away if the trainer says “that won’t happen,” “we’ll teach him that he needs to pay attention,” etc. Your dog can’t choose his trainer, but you can. Make sure you do your homework, interview your trainer, be ready to ask lots of questions, and, above all, be ready to walk away whenever you think your dog isn’t enjoying the training.

Laurie Luck, MA, Faculty Member, Karen Pryor Academy for Animal Training and Behaviour:


* Unfortunately due to little regulation in the pet industry, anyone can call themselves a dog trainer and anyone can describe themselves as using positive reinforcement (if that is what you are looking for), when perhaps they are not. Do your research!

* Look for a trainer who is open about their techniques.

* Look for legitimate certification.

* Ask the trainer what happens if your dog does something wrong? Ask them what happens if your dog does something right?
– If you don’t like the answer, then they are not for you.

* Be aware that some trainers use tools that are either illegal (prong collars) or without vet approval for that dog (shock collar/ecollar/vibrating collar/electric collar/etc.)

* If a person is on television talking and demonstrating how to train dogs – no matter what the breed or problem – that does not automatically make them humane in their techniques, qualified, or an expert in their field.

* If you are hearing the words ‘dominant’, ‘alpha’, ‘boss’, ‘discipline’, ‘leader of the pack’, you are likely not talking to a trainer working to current best practice.


Often dogs that are described as dominant and stubborn are dogs that have not been trained, are fearful and/or have no idea what is expected of them.

As described by the Australian Veterinary Association, it is not accurate to describe a dog as having a dominant personality. The word should only ever be used to describe a single interaction between two individuals competing for a resource such as a piece of food or a toy. One dog will usually give up the contest and leave the resource for the other. In that situation, the individual who wins is dominant.
Different resources motivate different dogs at different times. This means the relationship can change – just like you might argue with your partner occasionally about what channel on TV to watch, but at other times be quite happy to let them watch their choice.

Refer here for further information in regards to “dominance theory“.


The short answer is no.

The larger/stronger the breed the more important it is to avoid punishing techniques that can strengthen the undesired behaviour and facilitate or cause aggressive behaviour.

Regardless of the strength of punishment, punishment can cause some dogs to become extremely fearful and add to anxiety. This can be in any dog of any breed.

Different dog breeds may value different training rewards and have different needs in life. That does not mean punishment is required to achieve training goals.

A good dog trainer will be experienced with many different breeds and personalities of dogs.

Reward-based training is the most effective way of training any dog.  Rewards are anything your dog wants in that moment. Good things happen, so your dog wants to keep doing them.