I have had dogs all my life. Starting with a Dachshund in 1959 and moving on to larger breeds as I got a little older. I began learning to train them very early through my Father who was a stickler for obedience (from the dogs and my brother and me too). I always loved my dogs and I wanted them to obey me, but I wasn't fond of some of the tricks of the trade. Things like swatting a newspaper to get their attention and giving treats just because they did what you asked somehow didn't seem right to me, even at an early age.
In 1982 and began raising Australian Shepherds for show. I had a rescue dog as well, but the idea of going to dog shows and breeding was of a certain interest to me. I didn't really think it through very well. The work involved was way more than I had bargained for. All the obedience classes and all those dog shows. And the pain of selling them to make room for more was something I hadn't bargained on. After 10 years I called it quits. I still had my rescue girl, Cubby, and I kept just one Aussie, Briar.
During my tenure as an obedience trainer, I began to apply some new methods of my own. Instead of rewarding good behavior with treats, I rewarded them with praise and a kiss. People at the dog shows were appalled. I cut out the tricks people like to teach their dogs and went simply for the commands necessary to control and protect. Dogs need to know how to come, sit, stay, lie down, and stop. Roll over, shake, sit up, are all cute tricks but unless your dog is going to be on TV these are not necessary commands for your dog's well being. They are tricks for your own amusement.
When Jon and I got our current two dogs, Roxy and Charlie, we decided together to allow them to act like dogs. We taught them only the basics and we taught with nothing but our love. They were given treats occasionally just to show our love, but we only reward them with love when they obey a command. We found that the more we gave them reasonable freedom, the more they were willing to do to get that loving attention. Also it seems they learned to understand more things than we had to teach them. They followed their instincts. They are loving and sweet. They are very well socialized. The only punishment they receive is the silent treatment for an hour or two. That really gets them more than a harsh word or cracked newspaper.
I call this method "Love Training" and I have even given classes on how to employ this method of training successfully. Unless you want a circus or show dog, this method works to provide you with a happy, well adjusted, and obedient family member. Many disagree with me but the proof is in the pudding. Patience and love are your primary tools in having the best training outcome.
Peace and Love,