Humane Hierarchy of Dog Training: Basics, Early Levels

humane hierarchy basics

While there are several different specific programs or formats for dog training out there, many contain similar concepts and themes. One of the most well-known guides that helps summarize a very simple approach to dog training is known as the Humane Hierarchy of dog training, which was created by Dr. Susan Friedman.

At Innovative K9 Academy, we’re proud to offer numerous dog training services, from our dog training boot camp to puppy school, private classes and many other themes. While we don’t necessarily push any specific philosophy on our clients or their pets, the framework of the Humane Hierarchy is simple, straightforward and idea for many dog owners to set a foundation for the way they train and interact with their canine. This two-part blog series will go over each of the levels of the HH, helping you understand them and how they interact.

Health, Nutrition, Wellness

The first level of HH, and the one that would be placed at the start of any drawn-out roadmap here, is that of health, nutrition and overall behavioral wellness. No dog that’s in a learning stage can be completely comfortable and get the most from the program if their needs are not met, and this begins with very simple areas.

Ensure the dog is well-fed, plus generally happy and healthy. If they have exercise issues due to your packed schedule, for instance, their training may suffer in a few different ways. The same theme applies to other basic health and comfort areas, such as if the dog is not receiving proper nutrition, is having trouble sleeping or is experiencing any similar issues. These must be handled first before training can be robust.

Antecedent Arrangement

This level refers to a basic question: Is the environment the dog will be in set up properly for training? Let’s say you have a dog who you are training to stop barking at people outside your home: If you know there’s a particular time of day where barking happens, such as when the mailman comes by or when the nearby school lets out, prepare for it and look for ways to mitigate the behavior in advance.

This theme can be applied to virtually any concern your dog is dealing with. The idea is to remove the cause of the behavior and work on alternative solutions.

Positive Encouragement

As you get into the early parts of the training program, positive reinforcement is often necessary, and perfectly acceptable. For many dogs, this reinforcement comes in the form of food or treats, and many others also enjoy petting or playtime as a reward for their good behavior. This, in turn, will decrease negative behaviors as the dog learns what you like and don’t like.

For more on the Humane Hierarchy of dog training, or to learn about any of our dog training services, speak to the staff at Innovative K9 Academy today.