Many dog training methods are based on what makes the OWNER feel good, rather than on what actually makes sense to the DOG. For example....
"Positive only" dog training is a big fad right now
With "positive only" dog training, you bribe your dog to do something with food or a toy. If he does the desired behavior, he receives the reward.
If he refuses to do it.....nothing happens. You don't give him the reward, you don't show him how to do the behavior, you just stand and wait....and hope.
"Positive only" dog training often includes a clicker device – a little metal tab that makes a clicking sound when pressed with your thumb. Clicker training is a form of "operant conditioning" (a term some of you may recognize from your college psych classes).
Here's how it works: You click the clicker at the precise instant your dog is doing some desired behavior. You then immediately give a treat. The dog thus learns that whenever he hears the clicking sound, whatever behavior he was doing at that instant will bring him food.
The problems with "positive only" dog training
Positive only dog training and clicker training sound very noble, and if your dog is food-oriented, this training method works well for teaching fun things – like tricks – where it really doesn't matter whether your dog obeys or not. If you tell him to shake hands or roll over, and he doesn't do it, who cares?
But for teaching your dog to come when called in the presence of temptations or distractions...for teaching your dog to stand quietly while his teeth are brushed or his coat is groomed...for teaching your dog to act politely toward strangers and other animals, and for teaching your dog all the other sorts of behaviors you want a civilized family dog to do (or not do!), positive-only dog training just doesn't cut it.