In order to train any animal, the person doing the training must be willing to take a journey into that animal's mind. At the same time, your dog is learning a lot about how you communicate- not only in reference to the commands, but also the emotion and context behind those commands, or even if you're feeling OK.
Training doesn't take place in a vacuum. It is part of your social interaction with your pet, and your success will vary with how you have established yourself as a leader and how you decide to train.
How do you establish yourself as a leader? We have a number of little painless rituals. We tell the dogs when they can go in and out of doors instead of barging through. They have to go to their rugs on command and stay there, and they wait on their rugs for dinner. They do a little trick or command before getting any treat. And we handle every part of their bodies- including feet, tail, ears and mouth- so they're nice for the vet.
I believe very strongly in letting a dog learn in as stress- free manner as possible, but once they realize what I expect, I hold them to it- including a verbal or physical correction when required.
Working dogs have been bred ON PURPOSE with the mental fortitude to figure things out for themselves and to act decisively in the face of obstacles that would make CouchSpudRover go home wailing. They WILL challenge you... but they will also rise to the challenge... IF you're willing to be firm. Our experience is that the more we demand from our field trial dogs, the exponentially better they seem to get.
Our dogs seem well adjusted, confident, and obedient. I get compliments on the street all the time about how well behaved and happy they are. Children of visiting family and friends are safe playing with our dogs. And our vet and vet tech have been visibly relieved to have safe dogs to work on.
TRAINING IS WORTH THE EFFORT!!!