Positive Reinforcement Training Dog

A dog playing with a frisbee in a yard

Training a dog is arguably one of the most rewarding of pet-keeping experiences. It can become a full-time business, with the constant work involved in training dogs and in implementing their training methods to ensure they’re correctly behaving. Puppy mills are notorious for the extent of the cruelty inflicted on dogs during manufacturing. The methods can be horrendous, such as suffocating or drowning, electrocution or being burned with electrical cords, etc.

Application Of Behaviour Analysis Training Dog

A dog wearing a costume

Dog training, therefore, is basically the application of behaviour analysis that applies the context of antecedent outcomes and consequences to alter the dog’s behaviour, either to help it take on specific tasks or take on different behaviours more efficiently in modern domestic life. My experience as a dog trainer has given me many insights into what makes dogs tick. It seems that, whatever its breed, a dog will respond to an appropriately structured reward system. That’s why dog training is so important.

In the first of my series on dog training, I talked about positive reinforcement and why it is an important part of the training process. The fact is that dog training and behaviour therapy go hand in hand. Dogs are creatures of habit. They have certain responses to rewards, and certain behaviours to try to repeat. That’s why dog training and behaviour therapy often succeed. A reward, delivered after the correct behaviour, will usually get the animal to do what has been asked for.

Need Positive Reinforcement For Good Behaviour

A dog looking at the camera

Toddlers, in particular, need positive reinforcement for good behaviour. This is because of their motivational fundamental drive to please their owners. They can’t make an educated decision about how to behave without feedback from the owner. But they can learn what to do, in the same way that people can learn how to do things. A toddler that’s received some physical punishment and learns how to behave properly, will find that getting rewarded right away improves their behaviour. Rewards such as treats, small sums of attention and affection and games with a group of people are all useful forms of positive reinforcement.

Of course, dog training doesn’t just use rewards. It also employs many other techniques, which have to be combined with reward and punishment to be effective. I’ll mention a few here. Confining a dog to a specific area at the beginning of a training session, then moving them into another room when they do as they should, and offering them a ‘reward’ if they follow my command successfully, is an excellent technique. Dogs that are nervous or tense around an unknown person, or are scared of confrontation, will usually respond well to this type of pressure, making it a valuable part of many successful dog training sessions.

Navigate A Course Between Obstacles

Dog agility trials, in which dogs have to navigate a course between obstacles, are often quite entertaining. I’ve assisted in hosting a number of these myself, and the rewards the judges give to the winning dogs are often quite spectacular. Not only does this exercise improve their skills, it also stimulates their positive reinforcement system. I’ve found that training dogs for these types of events, using positive reinforcement techniques, makes the training process much quicker and easier too. It makes the dogs get into the groove quicker and makes them more eager to succeed.

Of course, all dog training does include some punishment. However, it has to be done in a controlled manner. Punishment should only ever be resorted to in extreme cases where the dog is not doing anything incorrectly. In many situations, it is simply cruel and inhumane to use punishment. The whole purpose of training a dog is to make them obey you, so punishment does no good. It pushes them away and teaches them that obedience comes from being strong.

Final Thoughts

So, overall, positive reinforcement dog training involves using positive methods to encourage the dog’s behaviour and punishing the dog when they don’t. It’s basically the same as training a human child. But because you’re dealing with a dog, you need to be even stricter with them. Remember that dogs by nature are inquisitive. Also remember that your training shouldn’t take long, and if you see something that doesn’t seem right with your dog, then you should probably consult your Vet.

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