Brandi working with our regal borzoi's Roald and Letka
Here at DogZenergy we believe in using positive reinforcement when working with and training our wonderful dogs. This is a powerful training tool, however it's not as simple as just praising every behavior the dog does. To get the most success out of positive reinforcement training here are a handful of the important Do's and Don'ts you can use at home.
Immediately praise and reward desired behavior
Dogs live the present moment, so your response should always be immediate. You can use both affection and treats, and should be used whenever your dog completes the behavior you ask them to do. For example, if you are house training your pup, give them a treat every time they go outside to do their business. Or working on commands? Show them physical attention when they complete the correct action.
Keep it short and fun
What we are working towards is getting your dog to understand positive things happen when they listen and obey. This being said, the training should be short, fun, and of course positive, the goal of aways ending on a good note.
Wean from treats
In the beginning of training it's definitely ok to use treats to get the behavior you want. As time goes on you should gradually wean your dog off of them, offering praise and affection instead. Your dog eventually will forget about the treats and do what you want just to please you, you become the treat. Also, a clicker or "Tsch" sound can also be associated with receiving a treat. When the treat has been removed your dog will still respond to the sound.
Make things complicated
If you want your dog to sit, don't tell them "sit down." Just say "sit" and immediately reward them when they complete the correct behavior. If you get to complex with your commands or training in general you will confuse your dog as we talked about in last week's training tip, Use Consistent Communication. Remember to be specific and keep it simple.
You can't reward your dog for not jumping on you when you come home, and then the next day offer them affection when they greet you by jumping up. Your dog will be confused and not know what behavior is correct. This goes back to always using consistent communication. Also, make sure everyone in your home uses the same terminology and rules, otherwise your dog will drive themselves crazy trying to figure out what's right for each person.
Stop correcting your dog
One big mistake that is often associated with positive reinforcement is that you can't say no to your dog. This is false. If your pup is behaving inappropriately, you can and should correct the behavior right away. Your goal is to keep "correction time" separate from "positive reinforcement" time. There should always be a balance.
Our zen dogs from left to right: Tahoe, Harley, Ivan, Orin, Milo and Pippa.
By using and understanding positive reinforcement, you will soon see treats will not be the only way to achieve your dog behaving correctly. Your dog will soon be working for your verbal and physical praise, because they want to make you happy. And of course they might just get a treat too!