When most people think of dog training, they think about lecturing a dog or rubbing their nose in their mess. Some people think of “yelling” or “shaming” the dog because of negative or bad behavior, such as eating the couch (yes, this does happen).
Over the years, training has evolved and become more advanced. The psychology behind a dogs and their learning behavior has been studied more and more, leading to better training methods and stronger bonds between human and dog.
What is Positive Reinforcement Training?
Positive Reinforcement/behavioral training is when you reward good behaviors and ignore behaviors that are less then favorable or “bad”. This process includes using treats, praise, and life rewards (games, walks, car rides, etc.).
When using this method of training it’s a good thing to get everyone in the family involved. This is a family effort that even children can get involved in! You can hand someone a few treats and teach them the commands you are training!
How Should You Start?
Starting positive behavioral training can be daunting, but establishing communication is the first step in creating a healthy relationship with your pup! Communication allows you to decide what behaviors you want your dog to follow and what they should expect from you when they perform the appropriate action.
When you reward your pup for doing something correctly and repeating this reward you are creating a line of communication. Repetition is important when trying to teach your dog expectations.
A good example of clear communication is no jumping on people. When your pooch goes up to someone new and starts to jump the behavior should be ignored. If the dog sits when they go up to a person, they get rewarded with a treat!
This is also an example of getting new people involved in training. Give your friends, family, and children treats to help the dog practice this behavior. The goal is to have the dog sit when they want to approach another person for attention.
You are creating a clear expectation for the dog; the expectation is for them to sit rather than jump. The dog will start to understand that they are performing the correct action when they are praised with treats and words.
Positive reinforcement is a simple way for the dog to avoid confusion. The more patient and consistent you are the quicker the dog will learn.
Why Punishment is ineffective!
Punishment can cause fear and aggression in dogs, which will often make situations worse. An aggressive or a fearful dog can become even more reserved or aggressive when they are in the face of punishment.
For example, yelling at the dog or hitting the dog may create more fear behind the action you are trying to teach. Yelling, hitting, and putting their face down can send a negative or confusing message to the dog. When you are potty training make sure you ignore when they use the bathroom inside.