Retail delivery! This photo cracks me up because it’s the epitome of balanced training. As a balanced trainer, I am not limited by a predefined set of rules dictating what I can and cannot use to help train a dog. Everything is in my arsenal, and it’s up to my knowledge, judgment and experience to determine what is best to use and when etc. 

That said, I must take a moment to point out that, unfortunately, all balanced trainers are not created equal. There are so-called balanced trainers out there who don’t believe in clicker training, and there are balanced trainers who put a prong collar on every dog – and even then, sometimes they don’t even know how to properly fit a prong collar on the dog! If they don’t know the basics of proper fitting, it makes me wonder if they actually know how to correctly use a prong collar…

It’s no wonder so many Pure Positive trainers dislike Balanced Trainers. I get it, I really do. There are lots of balanced trainers that I don’t like either. Fortunately, I think there are more good balanced trainers than bad. The problem is that finding true balanced trainers is hard, and finding a good balanced trainer is like a needle in a haystack.

I am a balanced trainer because I believe that there is no “one size fits all” method in dog training. Not every dog is food motivated. Not every dog needs a prong collar. Not every dog needs an e-collar. Balance is key, and knowing how to read a dog and determining the best plan of action (aka training plan) for that dog is really and truly the only recipe for success. Even then, the ‘plan’ ought to be flexible as behavior is not permanent but rather it is constantly changing.

While the majority of dogs I train thrive off similar approaches, I have never trained two dogs the same way. Ever. 

Clickers and prong collars are merely tools in a toolbox, to be used when and if the situation calls for it. There’s nothing wrong with either. As a tool they can be used properly – to accelerate learning and training – or they can be used improperly, or not at all. The tools themselves are not silly, unnecessary or “evil,” they’re just ways to motivate and communicate with dogs.  

When asked how best to train dogs, my answer remains the same: 

It depends on the dog.

Amy Pishner is the owner of Valor K9 Academy, LLC, and the head trainer of Valor K9 Academy – Spokane. She specializes in puppy training, basic obedience and behavior rehabilitation training.