Owning a dog is an incredible experience, but it also comes with some responsibilities. It is your responsibility to take good care of your dog as a dog owner, but it is also essential to train them well.
A well-behaved dog is a proud achievement for any dog owner. However, you can make it a rewarding experience if you take the time to train your dog the right way.
An old-school training method involves harsh instructions and punishments, but this thought has now changed. In recent years people have followed and have seen that positive reinforcement training for your dog is highly effective.
What is Positive Reinforcement?
Remember when you, as a kid, were rewarded each time you behaved well or scored well on your report card? Did that make you feel good and encourage you to perform better next time? Well, that is precisely what positive reinforcement means.
One of the most effective ways to train dogs would be to use the positive reinforcement method.
Positive reinforcement used to train dogs means that when a dog behaves well, you immediately reward it so that the behaviour occurs frequently. For instance, when you ask your dog to sit, and it does exactly what you asked them to do, then it’s time you reward them with a treat or praise them by using words like “Good job” or “Good boy”. This would make the dog sit the next time you ask him to.
Dogs don’t need much to feel encouraged, and all they expect is praise, food, or toys. Reward your dog with treats or anything else they associate with and feel appreciated. This will help your dog shape and change its behaviour.
There are many benefits to using positive reinforcement to train your dog, some of which are:
- The best and most fun way for dogs to learn
- Builds a positive bond between the dog and the owner
- Less behavioural problems in dogs
- Encourages dogs to think for themselves
- Builds confidence in dogs
- Avoids anxiety or aggression
- It prevents boredom and provides mental stimulation
Building a bond with your dog through positive reinforcement is better than dominance-based training.
How to Use Positive Reinforcement Effectively?
Rewarding your dog for good behaviour might sound simple, but you need to follow some basic guidelines to make it effective.
Timing is Key
When it comes to training your dog through positive reinforcement, timing is everything. If your dog obeys your command and does as desired, the reward must be given almost immediately within seconds. Only then will your dog associate the reward with the action.
Use Short Verbal Cues
Dogs don’t understand long sentences, and they mostly learn from our body language, so use actions when you give a command.
Some verbal cues you can use that will be easy for your dog to understand are:
Only the same cues must be used each time by everyone in the family so it doesn’t confuse the dog. Remaining consistent also means that you reward your dog only for the desired behaviour and not the undesired ones.
Times to Use Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is a great way to reinforce good behaviour in your dog and teach cues. It’s an effective technique to help your dog learn new tricks as well.
Types of Rewards
As positive reinforcement involves rewarding your dog for good behaviour, rewards include praise, food, treats, toys, or petting.
- Food treats work well while training dogs as they are highly motivated when offered food.
- Use a variety of food.
- Treats, so they don’t get bored with the same type of food each time.
- Praise your dog before handing out a treat. Verbal praise like ‘good dog’ will encourage them to obey you.
- Use irresistible treats for your dog. This will motivate them to do as told. Select your dog’s favourite treat.
- The treats should be small so that they can gobble them. This will make them look for more. Do not reward them with hard chew treats as it may not be something they will look forward to.
When To Reward With Treats
As your dogs are still learning, reward them with a treat each time they demonstrate a new behaviour. This is called continuous reinforcement. Once your dog has known a behaviour reliably well, it’s time to reward them occasionally.
If you decrease the rewards too quickly, your dog might get confused or frustrated. Do not forget to keep praising them each time when they behave well.
With positive reinforcement training, you will have to carry a handful of goodies with you all the time. But with time, as your dog learns to follow your commands, you would need to treat them only occasionally.
Get The Family Involved
Positive reinforcement training is a method that involves everyone in the family. Anyone in the family can train your dog and reward them each time they behave.
Remember that the whole family and the people involved in training your dog must use the same verbal cue for each action; otherwise, your dog might get confused.
Keep It Fun
Your dog’s positive reinforcement training can be fun if you keep the training session short and cheerful. Once the training seems enjoyable, they will start to view it as playtime, making them look forward to the sessions without feeling bored.
We believe that this blog has helped you understand positive reinforcement, its benefits, and how to use it effectively. However, now that you are more aware of it, you must remember that the key to positive reinforcement is patience and consistency.
You might feel frustrated and tempted to show disappointment and anger when your dog disobeys a command but remember to take a deep breath and remain calm. They are learning, and more like babies, so you should take it slow.
Your dog is trying its best to catch up, so always start with a smile and a happy note. This will encourage the dog and make them look forward to the next session.