Using positive reinforcement to modify behavior in humans, particularly children, has been popular for a number of years. This is just a fancy way of saying that behavior that is acceptable to you will be rewarded and unacceptable behavior will be ignored. In recent times this same method has been found to have positive effects on non-humans.
Recently I watched a couple of young ladies putting a Killer Whale through her act and it struck me that the only way that huge animal could have been trained to do that was using the positive reinforcement method. If you are ready to train your new puppy you can take the advice that’s widely accepted among the vast majority of dog training experts today: the most effective and humane way to train your dog is through positive reinforcement training.
Some of the popular dog training techniques of the past are completely opposite from today’s preferred method. Some of these outdated methods are now considered abusive and are avoided by all who wish to treat their dogs in a humane manner. Using the more humane positive reinforcement method you can have a puppy that is a well-trained and a loved member of the family.
Your puppy’s natural instinct is to please you, but she has to know what you want her to do. Puppies are easily confused; for this reason it is important that you be consistent in the language you use in giving commands. Before teaching your dog a command, decide ahead of time what verbal cue you’re going to be giving her, and then stick to it. So, when training your dog to not jump up on you, select one word or phrase such as “no jump”, and use it every time. Dogs learn through consistent repetition the appropriate actions associated with a particular phrase.
Dogs respond well to meaningful rewards during training. Patting on the head is not such a reward for most dogs. They like to have their backs and chests rubbed and some like their ears played with. Play with your puppy in a very gentle manner to determine if she gives a positive response to physical affection
To keep the quality of your dog’s learning at a high standard, it’s also good to use tempting incentives for good behavior. Food treats and physical affection are what dog trainers refer to as “primary incentives” – in other words, they’re both significant rewards that most dogs respond powerfully and reliably to.
Rewards work when training your puppy, but they must be given at just the right time. When your puppy responds to a command with the correct behavior, is the moment to give the reward. She will soon make the connection between her response to your command and the reward she receives
You can also use your voice to mark desired behavior: just saying “Yes!” in a happy, excited tone of voice will work perfectly. Make sure that you give her the treat after the marker – and remember to use the marker consistently. If you only say “Yes!” sometimes, it won’t have any significance to your dog when you do it; she needs the opportunity to learn what that marker means (i.e., that she’s done something right whenever she hears the marker, and a treat will be forthcoming very shortly). Here again, consistency is important.
A very important ingredient in successfully training your puppy is that you both enjoy it. Find a time when you both are refreshed and an incentive program that works for your puppy.
Want to find out more about The Absolute Best Puppy Training for your new pal.