Successful training for your dog: the Positive Reinforcement Method
It?s generally accepted among the majority of dog training experts that the most efficient and humane method to train your dog is through a process called positive reinforcement training. This is a fancy saying for what?s basically a very simple theory: using positive reinforcement entails rewarding the conduct that youdesire to see repeated, and ignoring the behavior that you don?t. This method is in direct contrast to some of the now-outdated but once-popular techniques for dog training, some of which were frankly detestable: physical pain and intimidation , or inhumane methods of aversion therapy. Positive reinforcement works with your dog. Her natural nature is to please you ? the theory of positive reinforcement recognizes that lessons are more meaningful for dogs, and tend to stick more, when a dog is able to figure out what you’re telling them on their own as opposed to, say, learning “down” by being forced repeatedly into a prone position, while the word “down” is repeated at intervals. When you use positive reinforcement training, you’re allowing her the time and the opportunity to use her own brain.
Some ways for you to smooth the progress of the training practice: – Use meaningful rewards. Dogs get bored pretty quickly with a routine pat on the head and a ?good girl? (and, in fact, most dogs don?t even like being patted on the head ? watch their expressions and notice how most will balk or shy away when a hand descends towards their head). To keep the value of your dog?s learning at a high standard, use tempting incentives for good behavior. Food treats and physical affection are what dog trainers refer to as ?primary incentives? ? in other words, they?re both important rewards that most dogs respond strongly and reliably to. – Use the right timing. When your dog obeys a command, you must mark the behavior that you’re going to reward so that, when she gets that treat in her mouth, she understands precisely what behavior it was that earned her the reward. Some people use a clicker for this: a small metal sound-making tool, which emits a distinct ?click? when pressed. The clicker is clicked at the exact moment that a dog performs the desired behavior (so, if asking a dog to sit, you?d click the clicker just as the dog?s bottom hits the ground).
You can also use your voice to mark preferred behavior: just saying ?Yes!? in a happy, excited tone of voice will work perfectly. Make sure that you provide her the treat after the marker ? and bear in mind to use the marker consistently. If you only say ?Yes!? or use the clicker sometimes, it won?t have any significance to your dog when you do do it; she requirements the opportunity to learn what that marker means (i.e., that she?s done something right whenever she hears the marker, and a treat will be forthcoming very shortly). So be consistent with your marker. – Be consistent with your training commands, too. When you?re teaching a dog a command, you must decide ahead of time on the verbal cue you?re going to be giving her, and then stick to it. So, when training your dog to not jump up on you, you wouldn?t ask her to ?get off?, ?get down?, and ?stop jumping?, because that would just confuse her; you?d pick one phrase, such as ?No jump?, and stick with it.
Even the smartest dogs don?t understand English ? they need to learn, through steady repetition, the actions related with a particular phrase. Her rate of submission will be much better if you choose one particular phrase and use it every time you wish her to enact a certain behavior for you.
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