Positive Reinforcement Dog Training: Putting the Basics in Place

Dog training
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The star of Crufts 2017, the top canine show in the UK (perhaps in the world), was not a pampered show dog.

Olly, a Jack Russel rescue dog, charmed the crowd as he enthusiastically crashed through obstacles in the agility test.

Olly’s nosedive stole the show, but his start in life was not so great. Blue Cross, a UK pet charity, took him in when he was only 10 weeks old. He isn’t the greatest performer, but he’s happy and has a great bond with his owner.

By putting the basics in place with positive reinforcement dog training, you can help your dog behave well and be happy to do so. Here’s how to do it.

What Is Positive Reinforcement Dog Training?

Positive reinforcement dog training is about rewarding the behavior you want. This encourages your dog to repeat this behavior.

Your dog learns that good things happen when he or she behaves well.

This technique can also be used to change undesirable behaviors. Reinforcing good behavior with a reward rather than bad behavior with punishment increases confidence and reduces anxiety.

Your aim is a happy, well-behaved dog, not an anxious, frightened dog.

Dog Training Starts with Your Training

Dog training starts with you learning that your everyday actions are what trains your dog. Every time you praise, feed, treat, scold, or ignore your dog, you are training him.

Knowing this will help you recognize that you may be reinforcing behaviors you don’t want (and failing to reinforce those you do).

You must learn to think like your dog. If you delay rewarding a behavior, your dog will forget what you’re rewarding him for.

If you call your dog and he doesn’t come, but you give them a treat when you catch him, you’re rewarding him for a game of “catch me if you can.” The next time you call him, the “game” will start again.

Start Early

You should start early with your puppy. Talk gently and calmly so he feels calm and relaxed with you.

Put the basics of house training, sitting, staying, and coming in place from day one.

Keep It Simple

Short, simple activities with rewards your dog can easily associate with the good behavior work best.

If you’re training your dog to retrieve a ball, don’t say, “Fetch me the ball.” Your dog can’t understand sentences.

Instead, say “Fetch” and immediately reward his action.

Be Consistent

It’s important not to confuse your dog.

An example would be spending time during “training sessions” rewarding a behavior, such as keeping off the couch, and then later cuddle with your dog on the couch.

Remember your dog is being trained by all your behavior, all the time. You can’t send mixed messages and expect him to understand.

You should also ensure your dog isn’t confused by different behavior when being groomed. Use groomers who understand and support your training.

Final Thoughts

Positive reinforcement dog training helps you and your dog be happy together.

Have fun and make it fun for your dog too. Moving on from treats to praise and affection reinforces your relationship.

Follow these tips to put the basics in place. And when you’re ready, add some more fun with dog training products like these.

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