2020 has been a challenging year for most of us, including our furry friends. From not being able to socialise with other doggos during the period of lockdown, to us humans spending too much time with our dogs with working from home, certain behavioural issues that you thought have been long gone or never existed have started to surface - e.g. symptoms of separation anxiety are showing with hoomans heading back to the office to work. We thought this is a great time to remind all you dog parents to stay committed to positive reinforcement dog training in the new year.
Training your pup, whether to get them to do tricks or to correct certain bad behaviours, can be tough and tiring but with the right methods and tools, you’ll find it much easier! From housebreaking to performing regular obedience training for dogs, the best training tool one can have is Positive Reinforcement.
Just like us, dogs learn best with plenty of love, effective use of treats and a whole lot of positive reinforcement. So what exactly is positive reinforcement? How can you train your pup to perform dog tricks? How do you help them curb their bad behaviours?
What is Positive Reinforcement?
Simply put, positive reinforcement is all about encouraging your pup to repeat good behaviours, often in place of bad ones. It’s all about giving your pup positive experiences when they produce desirable behaviours.
For instance, if you’re training your pup to sit, giving your pup a treat every time they sit tells them they should repeat this behaviour more They’ll be much more likely to sit the next time you ask - hence the behaviour is reinforced!
Positive Reinforcement can be a simple tool to use for training your dog. But it’s important to note that the type of treat and even timing of your reinforcement may impact the effectiveness of your training.
How To Use Positive Reinforcement Dog Training?
Understand what your goals are when it comes to training your dog. What do you want to achieve? What kind of behaviours are desired in your dog? Are you trying to teach them a new trick? Are you performing dog toilet training? Are you directing your dog to chew on things they can chew?
Once you understand your training goals, get some delicious training treats for your pup, Farmland Traditions Dogs Love Pork Jerky Dog Treats are soft, chewy and the perfect size for puppy training!
Some dogs respond better to play time, depending on the kind of behaviour you’re trying to reinforce. Working dogs and agility dogs are commonly rewarded with games of tug. If your dog’s exactly that type of pup, give KONG Extreme Ball With Rope Dog Toy a try!
Petting and praise can sometimes be used as rewards, but dogs will most often prefer something of high value, like good and tasty dog treats!
Rule #1: Consistency
The best way to make sure your positive reinforcements stick is to involve everyone in the family. Consistency really is key.
If one member of your family reinforce a particular behaviour, but the others don’t, it’s easy to see why your pup might not be that convinced that they should continue to repeat that behaviour.
Furthermore, try not to cut your pup any slack. For instance, if you’re trying to train your pup not to get on the couch, letting them on the couch with you for cuddles will only confuse them. If you have a puppy or dog going through the chewing phase and are likely to chew through your furniture and shoes, try a chew stopper like Naturel Promise Chew Stopper Naturally Bitter to curb biting the particular item in your house, and direct them to toys that you would like them to chew on. On this note, consider investing in good quality chew toys like the KONG Extreme Goodie Bone Dog Toy to entice your pup to chew and have fun with it.
Rule #2: Communicate
As much as you’d like to think your pup can understand you, our dogs aren’t able to understand the human language. That makes it extra important to get your message across clearly and effectively.
This is why punishment is not a good method of training. Scolding your dog for housebreaking accidents may be telling your dog not to urinate on the carpet when you’re not around, rather than telling them not to do it at all! In this case, a potty trainer tool such as NaturVet Potty Here Potty Training Aid Spray for Dogs might help with housebreaking training!
It is also good to be in an environment where there are not many distractions to help your dog focus on their puppy training. Remember, you want to set your dog up for success so every little variable counts.
Rule #3: Keep It Fun
As important as it is to train your pup quickly, a long session is never effective. Treat your training time as play time with your pup and keep it short and upbeat.
This helps your pup enjoy their training a lot more, making them more eager to perform good behaviours. It’s also a great way to maintain a good bond with your pup, allowing you to strengthen your relationship.
Obedience is a two way street. While dog training courses are a good way to start, positive reinforcement training can be done easily at home. All you need is a little bit of patience and effort, and your pup will be trained and performing tricks in no time!
Tammi writes articles about anything from data analytics to animal health, and loves doing the occasional craft. But most importantly, she loves hanging out and doing photo-shoots with her dog.