There’s no doubt that positive reinforcement gives your puppy an excellent foundation to grow into an amazing companion. This dog training approach makes the process enjoyable for everyone involved, and it’s quite hard to encounter resistance from your pooch. The training method is very simple, but some basic guidelines must be followed to make the technique effective.
What’s positive reinforcement dog training?
Positive reinforcement training is a smart force-free dog training technique that fosters good behavior without stressing your pet. You reward your dogs when they show positive behavior, and you’ll not need any aversive methods when they portray unwanted behaviors.
This effective method uses these key concepts:
- Positive reinforcement together with withholding or removing something your dog wants. That includes treats, toys, or attention until your dog makes the right choice.
- Confrontational punishments like kicking, hitting, or yelling at the dog must be avoided to avoid stressing your dog and making it aggressive.
- The dog isn’t asserting dominance when it doesn’t respond to you. Most dogs disobey because of a communication breakdown since they’ll need some time to figure out what you want.
- Dogs don’t speak, but you can learn to understand your pet’s body language and base your pet’s perception. Positive reinforcement bridges the communication gap to help pet parents effectively communicate with their dogs.
Positive reinforcement means you must add something to encourage your dog to show the desired behavior. Dog trainers use actions, high-value treats, and toys to effectively communicate with your dogs, guiding them to desired behaviors. The dogs learn more with positive reinforcement instead of negative punishment.
Benefits of positive reinforcement
Research shows various benefits of using this simple dog training method to make your pup a wonderful companion. Here’s why dog owners should use positive reinforcement:
- Avoids increasing aggression or anxiety
- Helps to build a strong bond with the pet based on respect and trust
- Uses easy training methods that are fun for your entire family
- It provides mental stimulation for your dog and prevents problem behaviors
- Builds your dog’s confidence
- Gives your dog a choice without the fear of repercussions
- Makes your dog excited about their training sessions
Using Positive Reinforcement Training
While rewarding your dog’s positive behaviors sounds simple for everyone, you’ll need some basic guidelines to ensure your dog is positively reinforced for good behaviors. Here are several reinforcement tips to help you.
Timing is everything
Timing is crucial to reinforce good behavior in your dog. The reward must be given immediately after the desired behavior occurs to ensure your dog associates this gesture with the proper action. For instance, if you have the dog sit but reward it after it stands, your pooch will think the reward is for standing up. That results in negative reinforcement.
Keep it short
Dogs can’t understand sentences. These friendly companions learn by observing your body language, so it’s wise to work on encouraging them to sit or stand before using words. Trainers recommend gesturing your dog while holding their favorite toy or treats.
Once your dog is accustomed to performing the desired behavior consistently, you can start incorporating simple words while asking them to perform it. Try to use a calm voice and avoid repeating the word. Some of the most common verbal cues you can use include:
- watch (eyes on me)
- down (lie down)
- up (stand up)
- off (get away from someone or something)
- give or drop (asking the dog to drop something and get a treat or toy)
Consistency is key
Positive reinforcement requires everyone in your family to be involved in the training process using the same cues. There’s no need to speak harshly, use strength or put yourself in danger.
To achieve consistency, it’s best to share the list of verbal cues you want to use with everyone in your family. Remember that positive means only rewarding good behavior and never rewarding negative behavior.
Types of treats to use
Most dogs respond well to food treats when training as they are highly food-motivated. Positive reinforcement can include praises, petting, food reward, or a favorite toy. Here’s how to choose the right treat:
- A treat should be irresistible and enticing to your dog. Experiment with dog biscuits, hot dogs, and other treats to see your dog’s likes.
- It should be a soft piece of food (peanut-sized for puppies) to allow them to finish it quickly and look forward to more from you. Avoid treats that break into smaller pieces and fall on your floor when the dog chews on them.
- Every time you give your dog a food reward, combine it with a compliment or praise. You can say something like “good dog” using an enthusiastic tone, followed by the treat.
- Offer varied treats to ensure the dog doesn’t get bored, getting the same reward.
When to give treats
When teaching your dog new behavior, reward it every time it demonstrates this behavior. That’s known as continuous reinforcement, but you can switch to intermittent reinforcement once it reliably learns the behavior. Here’s when to give treats to reinforce new behaviors:
- Start by rewarding your dog four times after successfully doing the behavior five times. Reduce the frequency to three out of five after some time, but don’t decrease the rewards drastically to avoid confusing your pet.
- Praise your dog every time.
- Vary the frequency of rewarding your dog after they respond. Otherwise, your dog will only respond when it needs your treats and verbal praise.
Looking for professional dog trainers that use positive reinforcement in the Winchester area? We’re here for you!
Ridgeside K9 Winchester facility understands the benefits of using ethical, force-free training methods to make your canine companion compliant. Our professionals offer one-on-one training, day training, group training, daycare, night classes, and weekend training. Call (540) 270-7132 to make your unruly dog a wonderful companion today!