Positive reinforcement is a great, non-confrontational technique when training your dog to behave. The general theory behind dog training reinforcement goes like this: If you give your dog a reward, be it praise, food, or toys when he responds to you or displays a behavior that you like, then your dog is more likely to repeat that behavior in the future. In other words, he learns that good things will happen to him when he does things you like.
Reinforcing your dog’s positive behavior makes it less likely he will embrace other traits that you dislike. Rewarding positive behavior as opposed to punishing negative behavior also lessens your dog’s anger and frustration, and generally makes him feel good. Your dog will make decisions uninfluenced by the use of force, resulting in his trust in you not being violated through threats.
You will find that dogs taught using positive reinforcement techniques are more self-controlled, confident, and behave more predictably in varying situations. In order to change undesirable behavior through positive reinforcement, you must first determine the root cause of the behavior. Once you understand why your dog is behaving that way, then you can work on the best way to communicate effectively the more desired behavior you expect out of him. Here is where truly understanding your dog comes into play.
Find out what motivates your dog and use it to effectively and positively reinforce his training. Praise, play, toys, or food are the most common rewards, but every dog is unique and it’s up to you to find the reward most effective. Despite what you may have heard, positive reinforcement in dog training is not bribery.
Alternating the rewards from a higher valued one such as food, to a lesser valued reward like praise, not only keeps your pup on his toes, it teaches him that there are generally pleasurable consequences for certain behaviors and he will repeat these behaviors simply because doing so makes him feel good. Not only does this result in a well-behaved dog, but the bond between owner and pet is strengthened. This is not bribery.
Of course, it can be difficult to figure out where to start with your dog’s training, and when it’s the right time to offer reinforcement. Professional trainers, like the team at AlphA and Omega, are able to offer guidance on dog training reinforcement – and can teach you a few training tricks while they’re at it!
A Few “Don’ts”
Positive reinforcement is a more supportive and encouraging approach to training your dog, so remember to be kind first and foremost. Don’t hit, scream at, or yank your dog, using so much fear will only make her more anxious and insecure. Don’t rush through the training, especially with anxiety-related behaviors. Don’t forget to be consistent with training and make sure your dog doesn’t get confused because one person lets her get away with an undesirable behavior you have been trying to correct. Everyone coming in contact with the dog should be on the same page.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that patience is key when training your dog. Recognize your dog’s concerns and slowly and compassionately help her to overcome them. And remember, if you need a helping hand, contact AlphA and Omega Dog Training, with teams located in Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale, and Cleveland.