At Surefire Guns Dogs, we pride ourselves in the ability to train reliable hunting dogs without the use of compulsion based, aversive techniques or tools. In other words, you won't find electric shock collars on any dog we train, at any level.
Our holistic goal is to bring out the best in your dog, giving you a high-performance, biddable dog who succeeds through their true joyful nature of pleasing- not out of avoidance to pain.
Traditional gun dog training methods often incorporate what's called positive punishment, which is, adding something to decrease the likelihood a behavior will be repeated. An example of this is corrections with electric shock. Traditional training also in-composes negative reinforcement, which increases the likelihood a behavior will be repeated by taking something away. A perfect example of this is the forced retrieve, taught by pinching a dog's ear until the dog takes a bumper/bird in its mouth. The ear pinch is then discontinued once the dog performs the desired behavior.
Some cases, techniques like Force Fetching can shut a dog down. Meaning, they become too scared to deliver any behavior at all and ultimately have no desire to work. They can also develop undesired, fear-based behaviors such as aggression. We believe training by causing pain and discomfort hinders learning and brings unintended consequences, masking the true inner nature and natural ability of the dog.
Communication between man and dog sometimes gets lost and/or misinterpreted when using an e-collar or any other 'temporary fixer'. Our stance doesn't have to do with the common sentiment that shock collars are fundamentally inhumane. Abuse is where you find it, and it's not limited to e-collar users.
In time, traditional gun dog training methods will succeed even in the toughest cases; relief from discomfort or pain-avoidance can be a powerful motivator. However, at Surefire we believe force is just unnecessary and find positive reinforcement to be an even more powerful tool. Because our methods do not employ force, discomfort or pain, dogs actually enjoy the training and become proficient retrievers more quickly than many dogs trained via the forced fetch.
We encourage dogs to take an active role in their learning- to think and make choices for which the worst consequence is the absence of a reward. And while positive punishment/negative reinforcement correction may teach an animal what not to do, those techniques do not teach the animal what to do.
Positive does not mean permissive and contrary to popular thought, it does include punishment. The type of punishment our reward-based trainers use is called negative punishment. While that sounds like a double negative, in behavioral terms it simply means that something the dog wants and finds rewarding is withdrawn or withheld. Easiest example, food treats or attention. Punishment is a part of learning, but it doesn't have to be painful or intimidating to be effective.
Engaging the dog with what the dog finds rewarding, coupled with thoughtful correction.. makes for a happy, well-adjusted dog who has 'learned to learn' and will love to please their owner.