Dog Training 101: Using Positive Reinforcement
1. Use food
The most common type of positive reinforcement used in dog training is food. It's the same concept as rewarding yourself with a Starbucks Frappuccino after a particularly grueling workout or an ice cream cone when you've completed a project at work.
However, there are other forms of positive reinforcement that can work equally well. If you don't like the idea of popping out a dog biscuit after every incident of good behavior, you can use petting, verbal praise or a round of fetch as positive reinforcement.
The point is to reward good behavior with something your dog enjoys. The benefit of food is that most dogs are motivated by a tasty treat and will automatically look to you for more. This keeps their attention focused on you and allows for constant training throughout the day.
2. Give yourself time to learn
Like any method of dog training, positive reinforcement takes time to master, and it is perfectly acceptable to make a few mistakes. If you've never taken a training class or read any literature, expect a learning curve and don't beat yourself up for making mistakes.
3. Key words
You'll want your dog to understand and respond to certain commands, and the earlier you expose him to those commands, the better. According to The Humane Society of the United States, some of the most common words used in dog training are "sit," "stay,"" heel," "come," "down," "off" and "leave it."
4. Lead by example
Show your dog what each word means by helping him respond correctly. For example, if he is on the couch, and you don't want him to have furniture privileges, say "off." Then, gently guide your dog back to the floor. Once he is there, praise him, or give him a treat immediately to show that was what you wanted.
5. Be consistent
Respond to each behavior the same way every time your dog does it. Training your dog is not effective unless you are consistent as often as possible, which means your pooch can't be welcome on the couch onlysometimes.
6. Never stop teaching
A bored dog can be a destructive dog. Once you've established the correct responses to the commands you want your dog to learn, keep the lessons coming. For example, you might want to praise Fido every time he settles down with a chew toy because he is using an approved item rather than the armoire you inherited from grandma. This is especially important with smart and/or high-energy dogs, such as border collies. If you don't keep them interested, they'll find something to do -- and you might not like the result.
Video: Dog Training With Positive Reinforcement | Teacher's Pet With Victoria Stilwell
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