RPB is firmly dedicated to positive, pain free training methods/techniques, and strongly promotes the clicker training method. Any breed can learn new behaviors through clicker training, but Pit Bulls - with their enthusiastic and human-connected personalities - seem to especially benefit from this humane, hands-off training method that allows dog and handler to work as a team. Clicker training can be used to teach dogs traditional obedience exercises, tricks, and intricate behaviors not readily taught with less-precise training techniques. It can even be used to help resolve behavioral problems.
So what's clicker training? In a nutshell, it is a method which uses a 'marker' (in this case, a small plastic clicker) to 'bridge' (connect) a behavior with a reward (food). The click tells the dog he or she did the right thing, and that a reward for that right thing is now on the way. Because the clicker connects very clearly in the dog's mind the delivery of the food with a behavior, new behaviors can be learned in a very short period (in some cases, in a 5 or 10 min training session). The dog doesn't have to figure out what the reward's for (a problem with some other methods), it's very clear!
What's so great about clicker training is that it allows a dog to be an active part of the learning process. Instead of 'doing' something 'to' your dog, with clicker training you and your dog are both participating together. Clicker trained dogs tend to be very happy, willing participants in the training game. There's no fighting, clashing or conflict - it's all about learning in a pain-free, non-frightening way. Clicker training does not employ prong collars, choke chains, shock collars, or other 'traditional' training tools or techniques like scruff shakes or alpha rolls.
From the angle of breed advocacy, clicker training is a chance to show that APBTs are sensitive, smart dogs who don't need to be manhandled, jerked around, alpha-rolled, or otherwise physically dominated in order for them to learn new behaviors or be under control. Pit Bulls are actually very sensitive, intelligent, deferential dogs who learn best when respectful, non-invasive, and gentle training techniques are used.
If you are interested in learning more about clicker training, and are in the central/north NJ area, you may wish to check out Pit Bull School clicker classes, taught by RPB founder/director Mary Harwelik. If you are outside the area, there are plenty of online resources to help you locate a trainer or even learn online how to train your dog using this scientifically valid, cutting edge training method. Here are some of our favorites:
And please continue to watch our blog for more information on clicker training, Pit Bull School, and positive promotion of our breed through positive training!