Why Positive Reinforcement Works?
When you bring a puppy, rescued dog or a newly adopted dog home, they do not come with knowledge of how to behave in a socially acceptable manner in our world. As dog owner, we are the ones who are responsible to teach them manners and if we don’t then the dog is going to indulge in different kinds of bad behaviours.
There are many methods to train dogs but generally, we should be using one behavioural philosophy which is positive reinforcement. What does positive behavioural mean? Basically, it’s rewarding behaviour that you want and it’s more likely the behaviour will be repeated.
You will get a well-behaved dog that wants to listen to you because it wants to not because it fears what’s going to happen to it. At the same time, you will build up a great connection and a great relationship with your dog for life.
You are teaching your dog to cooperate with you rather than teaching your dog to behave through domination. Modern canine’s behavioural science, encourage positive reinforcement rather than the outdated traditional method of domination training.
Reward-based training also can help build confidence and encourage dogs to think for themselves. Find out what rewards your dog likes, for example being pet, playing in the water, throwing a ball, playing tug of war, foraging hidden treats or going for walkies. All dogs are different, they will naturally find different things rewarding just like humans do. However, most dogs enjoy food, toys and our attention.
When you first begin training a new skill, it’s important that you reward your dog every time they are successful. After they’ve learnt the new behaviour and successfully doing it well in a variety of environments, we can change the reward or giving it randomly.
That way you don’t have to reward for just sitting for the rest of their life. Instead, you can say “good boy” and occasionally give them a treat as a bonus! This is so your dog doesn’t know when to expect their favourite type of reward and stays interested! They will also know exactly what action to do again to get their next reward.
iming is crucial. It’s useful to have a marker that is a signal to your dog exactly when they’re doing the right behaviour that you’re happy about. It must always be followed by the reward after so your dog can be confident they’ve got things right.
Some people use short punchy words such as ‘Yes’, ‘Good boy’ or you can purchase a clicker device. Select a marker that you feel comfortable with and make sure all your family are on board. This is because your dog won’t be confused and untrained all your hard work the very next day.