At a loss on how to train your new dog?
Read below to learn all about Positive Reinforcement.
We've got some great tips!
Article by Amber Kingsley
Have you ever been told to “think positive”? This advice is more than just a platitude for test-taking or weight-loss, it can also be a method to which you apply towards any number of things. Man’s best friend is no exception.
Dogs benefit greatly from positive reinforcement. Canines are fairly sensitive to their owners emotions, and can understand tones of voice and facial expressions in addition to verbal cues. Dogs are also particularly food-motivated and will perform if there are treats involved.
For everyday situations and completing basic training with a puppy, it’s important your dog knows when you’re pleased with him. Speak to your dog in an upbeat, happy voice. Be sure to highlight verbal commands with an enthusiastic tone, and try to echo this tone each time you use the phrase or word. Praise your dog excessively when he does something correctly, even if by accident. Pairing encouragement with head rubs and petting is also a great, positive way to let your dog know you like his behavior.
In addition to these tactics, training your dog with a reward system is a good way to establish adherence to a schedule, encourage good behavior, and curb boredom. Both with playtime and with treats, consistently rewarding your dog’s behavior is the best way to get him to increase his good habits.
Dogs like to play and can be very active when given the opportunity, therefore it can be productive to offer your dog the chance to work out some energy. Especially in cases where bad behavior may be linked to boredom and inactivity, you can teach your dog that if he completes a certain behavior, you will respond with a matching action. For example, in the case of a dog that likes to run and fetch, he will bring the toy to you if he knows that you will throw it. Generally, if your dog knows that you’re receptive to and encouraging of play, he will respond accordingly within each situation, and over time.
Keeping a bag of treats handy is a great way to offer positive reinforcement. Treats are recommended for encouraging your dog in situations that may be difficult, uncomfortable, or scary. Does your pup hate getting her nails clipped, taking baths, or visiting the veterinarian? Giving her a treat after the ordeal is over will placate her and help her get used to the trial over time.
Teaching your dog new tricks almost always requires the help of treats to encourage the action or to help your dog distinguish steps of trick. For instance, teaching your dog to roll over may require you to first teach him a command like “down.”
While many dog owners like to reward their pets with “human food,” be sure you’re aware of any food allergies, whether they’re specific to your dog or an allergy shared by most dogs. If you’re sure that your dog can eat a certain kind of human food, this can be a great reward for your dog’s hard work.
Positive reinforcement works by taking away the focus from bad behaviors and putting all the emphasis on the good ones so that your dog will be more likely to repeat and build on them in the future. See the infographic below for more illustrated ways to positively train your pup!