I'm what professional trainers call a "cross-over trainer" because I first learned about dog training back when the predominant technique for training a dog was to use aversives, like "corrections" with a prong collar or a shock collar. Indeed, I trained a search and rescue dog using primarily negative techniques. Fortunately, that dog was afraid of nothing, and she flourished despite heavy-handed training.
I shudder to think what would have happened with Shyla if I'd tried to train her using punishment-based learning. As many of you know, Shyla is sensitive to the point of being fearful. Indeed, when I first met her a year ago, she was afraid of many normal aspects of everyday life, partly due to her sensitive nature and partly due to lack of socialization to the real world. If I'd tried to "force" her to take on her fears, I suspect that it would have been disasterous. She wouldn't have gained the confidence that she now has.
Even now, if I use an angry voice in Shyla's presence, she slinks away. For example, the other night, R was up to mischief. He knocked over my water glass while I ate dinner. Then, as I tried to quickly clean up the water, our black "puppy" tried to steal my dinner. I yelled to stop R from inhaling my entire dinner in one fell swoop. A quick yell is something that I can do with R that I'll probably never be able to do without really scaring Shyla.
Over the past year, I've spent innumerable hours with Shyla, using positive training techniques, to help her learn to live happily in the bustling world of humans. It's been so rewarding.
Recently, I've noticed another change in her that shows a trust that is new. She likes to look me straight in the eyes. I took this photo at sunrise this morning, and her trusting eyes warm my heart.
And she wouldn't be so thrilled to "offer" tricks that we've worked on together!