Unraveling the ins and outs of a dog’s mind can be challenging even for experienced dog owners. But when training is needed, whether for a novelty trick or vital safety, there is one principle to keep in mind that will guide you and your pooch to success. Positive reinforcement is a key principle in dog training that, when incorporated correctly, will work wonders to help your dog understand what you actually want.
What Is Positive Reinforcement?
In dog training, reinforcement is one way that owners and professional trainers alike can show their dogs which behaviors they like. The owner can focus on the good behaviors and make it an exciting thing for the dog. In this way, the owner can encourage the dog to repeat that behavior in the future.
Why it is different than many approaches is that positive reinforcement focuses only on the good. When the dog does the correct behavior, they are rewarded, either with snacks or a good belly rub.
This helps your pooch understand which things he or she should do again, and it tells him or her to be excited about it too. Bad behaviors are ignored, making it much more appealing for your pup to pursue the activities that yield a good scratch behind the ears or a favorite treat.
Where to Start
Dog training is a daunting task without a sense of direction, for the human and the pooch!
A great way to start is identifying behaviors you don’t like, and an alternative idea of something you would prefer that your dog do instead. This could be something like: “I don’t enjoy when my dog eats my favorite shoes. I want to teach him to run and get a favorite dog toy instead, when he wants to chew.”
If this doesn’t fit your needs, you can simply start with a trick or behavior you know that you want your dog to be able to perform. Perhaps when it’s
time for bed, you tell your dog to go lie down on their bed. You could make a nightly ritual of giving your dog a bedtime treat once he or she lies down.
Whether you choose to start with a problem behavior and an alternative that you want to introduce, or simply beginning with a good trick from the start, this positive enforcement will send an important message to your dog. Your dog will hear you loud and clear: when he or she does what’s wanted, there are rewards, and you are happy.
Keys for Continued Success
When in doubt, here is a final list of keys that, when kept close, will help keep you and your pup on track:
- Listen to your dog’s body language
- Take breaks and train in short increments
- Reward partial successes too
- If your dog is getting confused or frustrated, pause
- Keep verbal cues short, and choose ones that sound very different
If you remember these rules of thumb, very soon you can train your dog like the pros!
Fon Jon Pet Care is a full-service doggie daycare and pet boarding facility located in San Diego. We offer training classes, in-lodge training, pet bathing and more. Call us today at (858)-280-3605 to learn more about Fon Jon.