Dog training articles: how to find the best online

ready300There are billions of websites on the internet.

Probably hundreds of thousands, if not millions of those websites, are about dogs.

Many or most of these dish out dog training advice in generous quantities

Some of these websites are superb.  Packed with fantastic, accurate, up to date, information and advice.

Some are desperately inappropriate, peddling outdated and even dangerous training methods. How are you supposed to know the difference?

What to look for in a good dog training site

Obviously it helps if an article is well written.  But the essence of a good dog training article – is that the information it offers the reader is accurate and complete.

Dog Training Articles OnlineThat means finding articles written by the right people.  But don’t worry, it isn’t as difficult as all that, to figure out who knows what they are doing, and who doesn’t

There are some key factors that you need to look out for on any website offering information on training.  Some of them are phrases giving you a clue to the author’s approach. 

Other clues are information about the trainers themselves.

Absence of information can itself be a give away.

We’ll have a look at these factors first, and then I’ll give you a few suggestions to get you started.

Out of date

You might think that training information doesn’t date.  After all, we’re not talking about a perishable product here.  We’re talking about something that people have been doing with dogs for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

How can a training website be out of date?

Well, to be fair, it is the trainers themselves which are out of date.  But the effect is the same.

Up to date

Dog training techniques have advanced in leaps  and bounds over the last ten or fifteen years.

We know much more about how dogs learn and about how to train dogs without force or intimidation than we did twenty years ago.

Anyone distributing information about a particular sport, discipline, or academic field of interest, needs to be up to date with their knowledge and skill.  And dog training is no different.

What to look for

Whether or not a dog trainer has kept themselves abreast of the latest research and invested in his or her own professional development will often be obvious by what they say or don’t say.

Here are some key phrases to look for

  1. Positive reinforcement  or positive training
  2. Modern or science based dog training
  3. Setting your dog up to win
  4. Crossover trainer

1. Positive reinforcement training

Effective modern dog training uses positive reinforcement to create new behaviours and change old ones.

Positive reinforcement trainers sometimes call themselves ‘positive’ trainers for short.  Check out these articles for more information

2. Modern or science based

Modern trainers may refer to themselves as science based because they refer to the principles of behavioural science to govern the way they train.

They focus on controlling resources and on controlling the consequences of a dog’s behaviour to create reliable trained responses in their dogs.

3. Setting dogs up to win

Effective dog trainers focus largely on setting the dog up to win, rather than on ‘catching him out’ when he fails.

Dig a little deeper if you see claims to be ‘reward based’   Many traditional dog trainers refer to themselves as reward based, because they use a certain amount of praise.  So reward based is not a guarantee of a basically positive trainer.

4. Crossover trainers

The term crossover trainer is encouraging.  Cross over trainers are traditional trainers that have switched to modern positive reinforcement training.

There are many thousands of these trainers around the world and more are joining them each day.

What to avoid

Those that have been left behind, or who are simply recycling information from others that are equally out of date with often give themselves away by terms like these

  1. Being a pack leader
  2. Getting your dog’s respect
  3. Ensuring that a dog is submissive and not dominant
  4. Balanced training

1. Pack leader

The latest research has thrown our old theories about dogs as pack animals into disarray.  We now know that dogs don’t form packs at all.

They simply compete with one another for resources when those resources are scarce.

2. Respect

Respect is a very attractive word to dog owners.  We all value respect and want others to respect us.

Sadly, in dog training, the word respect usually means that the trainer is intimidating the dog or that the dog is fearful of the trainer to some extent.  Rather than meaning that the dog is admiring of our qualities or abilities.

3 Dominant/submissive

Along with beliefs in packs and pack hierarchies it was once believed that dogs all strive for rank or status within that pack.  And that unless we dominate the dog, he will try to dominate us.

This belief – has been entirely demolished.  Most dogs have no interest in dominance, check this link for more information and evidence.  Your dog doesn’t push through doors to dominate you – he does so because he want to get to the other side and hasn’t been taught any manners yet.

If you are intending to create a submissive dog, you’d better be prepared to frighten and bully him. You’ll also need to cope with all the fall-out that this kind of treatment brings.  See  The downside of punishing dogs for more information.

Many domestic dogs are naturally very submissive.  Others not so much.  Either way, it won’t have any effect on your ability to train your dog.

4. Balanced training

Here is a sneaky term.  It sounds great doesn’t it?  We all like a ‘balanced’ point of view.  A ‘balanced’ perspective.

That is not what balanced training is about.  A balanced trainer is simply one that uses both rewards and punishment in equal measure.

As we now know that punishment has many downsides, this is not a good thing.

So, you have a few key terms and phrases which should reassure you (or set alarm bells ringing) when you visit a trainer’s website.  But sometimes, it can be very difficult to decide which side of the fence the trainer is actually sitting on.

Absence of information

A while ago, a dog trainer applied to advertise on one of my websites.  As I only wish to promote modern, science based  dog training advice, I tried to check out the trainer to find out what methods he was promoting.

All his material was cloaked in secrecy.

He spoke a great deal about the great results you would get from participating in his classes or purchasing his material.  But said nothing at all about his methods.

I had to dig very deep indeed to discover that this trainer was in fact an old school dominance based trainer.

No place for secrecy

This just wouldn’t happen with a modern positive reinforcement dog trainer.  They will always tell you that they use force-free methods based on reinforcement not punishment.

There is simply no place for secrecy when disseminating dog training advice.  Your readers have every right to know where you are coming from.

If it isn’t obvious from the start what methods a website is recommending, you can be pretty sure they are not the right ones for your dog.

To get you started

Here are three websites that are full of interesting and informative articles about dogs and dog training.  Written by educated and knowledgable trainers with a wealth of practical skills.

Check them out:


There is a wealth of information on the internet about dog training.  Probably more articles than you could read in a lifetime.  It pays to find the best ones and not waste time on poor and outdated information.

Check out modern dog training methods  and how dogs learn before you set out on your search.  This will help you to recognise worthwhile websites when you find them.

Have fun surfing, and don’t forget to recommend your favourite sites in the comments box below.

This website is brought to you by Pippa Mattinson

Pippa's book Total Recall is a complete recall training programme for puppies and adult dogs, and her Happy Puppy Handbook is a definitive guide to puppy care and early training

by Pippa Mattinson on October 31, 2014

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