Anyone who has owned a dog knows how important the commitment is. Dogs offer the company, loyalty, and unconditional love. Also, numerous studies show how beneficial dog ownership can be for your mental and physical wellbeing. Pet owners are happier and healthier; in fact, studies on blood pressure revealed that those who spend a lot of time with animals they love are less likely to develop high blood pressure.
Dog owners also greatly benefit from the daily walks that most owners integrate into their lives. When you first bring your new canine addition home, one of the first things you should consider is how you are going to train them. A healthy dog can live upwards of 20 years, and that is a long time to be dealing with an untrained animal. Positive reinforcement dog training is the way to go; the idea behind it is that instead of punishing negative behavior, you reward good behavior so you end up with a happier dog and a more loving dog-owner relationship. Let’s take a look at some valuable tips on using positive reinforcement with your dog. Both you and your dog will benefit from this training.
What is Positive Reinforcement Dog Training?
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Recent studies have found that positive reinforcement training is a more effective dog-training method. Canine behavior can be molded and shaped with some guidance, and the idea is that rewarding positive behavior will result in more of that same behavior. Training involving punishment and asserting trainer dominance has been shown to bring about behavioral problems, and problematic submissive behavior in many dogs, not to mention the methodology of positive reinforcement training is more humane.
Five Simple Steps for Positive Reinforcement Training
Training a dog is a great experience, one that you will remember and benefit from through the duration of your relationship. The idea behind this type of training is to use small treats, verbal praise, and affection to encourage the behaviors you want to see in your dog.
1) It’s a good idea to come up with some short one-word commands that you are comfortable using and can fully commit to. These commands will be what you use to teach your dog, so make sure you are consistent with always using the same ones. A lot of people make the mistake of alternating between different words or tones. Choose your words and keep them and your tone consistent for each command: Sit, Stay, Down, Heel, Off, Wait.
2) When it comes to dog training, consistency is critical. Anyone who is spending time with your dog should use the precise commands and tones the dog is conditioned to respond to during training. Each command delivered correctly and positively reinforces the resultant behavior you want to see.
3) Immediacy is also an essential part of positive dog training. As soon as your dog performs the task or behavior you want, reward them immediately. Some people make the mistake of waiting, but by then, it’s too late, and the dog won’t remember or understand the purpose of the reward. The quick response rewards the desired behavior. Make sure you always have treats at the ready; this is especially important when you first start your training.
4) Keep your training sessions brief and enjoyable. The whole premise of positive reinforcement training is that it should be just that: positive. You don’t want to tire out or frustrate your dog by long and extensive training sessions, not to mention yourself. Every training session should be a chance to strengthen your bond with your dog. A strong relationship goes a long way when it comes to having a dog that wants to please their owner.
5) Gradually taper off the treats. As your dog produces consistent positive behavior, slowly taper off the treats and save them for when they perform a new task or action. At one point, the treats will no longer be necessary as you will have fully trained your dog and have a dog-owner relationship that is based on loyalty and respect. After the treats have stopped, it is still important to reward your dog with positive verbal rewards and affection, and this will maintain that strong relationship and continue to reinforce your dog’s positive behavior.
When it comes to training a dog, few things are more rewarding. Your dog will give you an endless source of affection, company, and loyalty. You both will enjoy the relationship more when positive reinforcement training is established. Being able to give your dog commands like ‘Wait’ when you enter the home so you can get yourself settled before having to wipe them down is a huge benefit. A well-trained dog takes the stress out of dog ownership and allows you to focus on the joyous elements of training and owning a dog.