Dog Training > Dog Training > Positive Reinforcement Dog Training

Positive Reinforcement Dog Training

Positive reinforcement dog training works by using praise and positive actions or rewards, rather than punishment or correctional actions, to teach your dog right from wrong. The key with this type of training is to determine what it is that motivates your dog, and use that motivator as a reward upon correct performance. In positive reinforcement dog training you can use treats, toys, physical affection, verbal praise or a combination of any of those, to reward your dog for correct behavior.

Here’s how the method works…

First you must determine a set of cue words, which will prompt your dog to perform specific actions. Some of the most basic and common cue words for dog training include:

  • Sit
  • Stay
  • Off (Use this word when you want the dog to get “off” of the furniture or after having jumped on someone)
  • Down (Use this word when you want the dog to lie down)
  • Come
  • Stand

In positive reinforcement dog training it is important to reward the dog immediately upon responding correctly to the cue. For example, if you cue your dog to “sit” and he does so, you need to immediately let him know that he did a good thing by telling him “yes”, or “good”. Then you proceed by promptly giving him the reward. Remember, the reward must be something that your dog gets some pleasure from. If your dog loves food, then reward him with a small treat. If he really likes to play with a certain toy, then reward him by throwing the toy so that he can fetch it. If perhaps he is most motivated by physical affection, then you can reward him with a belly rub or a nice ear scratch. Do not however wait too long to reward him for the action, otherwise it may end up just confusing him. For example, if you asked your dog to “sit” and then waited until he stood back up again before rewarding him, then he will associate the “sit” command with the action of standing up. After all, that is what you rewarded him for.

During the time in which you are training your dog to respond to new cues, you will want to reward him every time the correct action is performed. However, once he has successfully mastered the cue and is performing consistently without hesitation it will no longer be necessary to provide rewards each time he performs the specific action. Simply reinforce to him verbally that he was correct by telling him “yes”, or “good”.

The two key issues with positive reinforcement dog training are consistency and timing. Be consistent in your training methods, ensuring that you use the same cue words each and every time and, make sure that your timing in terms of rewarding correct behavior is bang on. Last but not least and above all, this should be fun for both you and your dog. If either of you are not having fun then you’re doing something wrong. Accept the fact that training your dog will take time and patience but eventually your consistency and persistence will pay off.

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