Positive Dog Training - How to Start?
There is no denial in the fact that being a dog parent is a wonderful, fulfilling experience. Dogs can make us happy in so many ways. They cease to surprise us every day with their affection, goofiness, and intelligence at the same time. However, it is also a great responsibility you take on yourself by adopting a dog. By welcoming a pet into your home, you promise to provide them with the best possible care, maintaining a healthy diet as well as keeping them in a great mental condition. You are responsible for your pet’s overall happiness and the best way to accomplish that is to introduce your pup to positive dog training methods.
What Is Positive Dog Training?
Positive reinforcement is a dog training method based on the assumption that if you reward your dog for correct behavior, they will be most likely to repeat it. It is proved to be one of the most effective training techniques, leaving methods that include dominance and fear a long way behind.
Positive training doesn’t allow punishing or intimidating the dog. Every responsible pet parent wants their furry friend to be in a good physical and mental state and the last thing you want is to make your dog scared of you. However, it would be difficult not to react when your dog is being naughty, right? With positive dog training, your goal is to redirect their attention to something else and praise them if they act the way you want them to.
How to Get Started
Identify What Motivates Your Dog Best
Positive dog training is usually associated with food rewards as the best motivation for your dog to train. Offering treats for good behavior is the most common type of reward but definitely not the only one. In fact, there are other kinds of rewards that you should try out and see how your dog responds.
You can consider a prize everything that your dog loves and what brings them the most joy, such as playing with their favorite toy, petting on the belly, playing fetch with you, or the opportunity to run freely in your garden for 15 min. We believe that you know your dog best so be creative, learn to notice small things that your dog enjoys the most, and incorporate them into your training sessions as a price for being a good boy or girl.
Create a Reward System
As you already know, there are different ways of rewarding your dog for desired behavior. The obvious one is offering super tasty treats but the key to making sure that your dog is always excited about the training is to keep the rewards unexpected. What it means is to offer different kinds of rewards each time your dog performs well, depending on the difficulty of the task. Therefore, try to surprise your dog with a treat - for a simple ‘’Sit’’ command you can give your dog a piece of dry food but for a ‘’Sit and Stay’’ - a bite of delicious ham. When your dog gets more advanced in the training, you can slowly start eliminating the rewards for following the easiest commands. After all, you don’t want to bribe your dog to perform only in exchange for a prize.
Pro Tip: Make sure not to show your dog the treat before they do the exercise. Your pup should not be aware of what they will get. Otherwise, they might learn that it’s worth listening to you only if there is a snack coming.
Use a Clicker
A clicker is an often-used tool that is very helpful in positive reinforcement training. In simple words, a clicker is a sound marker that informs your dog ‘’Yes, that’s what I want from you!’’.
The first step to clicker training is to teach your dog to associate its sound with a reward. Your pup should realize that every time they hear the clicker sound, praise will immediately follow. Make sure to click on the exact moment your dog performs the command well, otherwise, they might get confused about what the sound indicates.
You can get a clicker in every pet store for a small price or use a built-in clicker. There are plenty of apps to choose from that offer this easy solution.
As the definition of positive dog training implies - be positive, encourage, reinforce bad habits into another activity, a good one. Praise, cherish even the smallest successes and let your pup know you are proud of them. Your dog can feel your energy so don’t spare them your affection. We are sure that your love will be the best motivation for your smart doggo.
Every training session should be finished on a good note when your dog is successful.
If the task is taking too long and your dog is losing interest, they might get unmotivated to train again. A good idea would be to end the training on the exercise your pup knows. This way your dog is encouraged to learn more and you are happy that your furry friend is looking forward to your next practice together.
As a professional dog trainer, I see many clients with dogs of different ages, breeds, and temperaments. I might work on leash pulling with the first..