The Benefits of Positive Dog Training
Published: May 27, 2020
Owning a dog is one of the most rewarding things a human can do. Dogs and humans are a perfect pair! We instinctively want to make their lives better. We also want them to do really cool tricks, and using a positive dog training approach will be more rewarding for your dog. And in response your dog will want to perform more often (and do a better job) for you, his beloved human!
Let’s go ahead and get started so we can learn more about the benefits of positive dog training.
Whether your “gotcha day” was when your pooch was 8 weeks old or when you bailed him out of the pound at age 3, instilling a positive influence in your pooch right off the bat is crucial while you get to know each other. Your dog knows that you’re the most fun thing in the world and will do anything to please you.
Reward your dog whenever she performs how you want!
Remember when your little brother or cousin was learning to talk? Whenever your little brother said the right word, the whole room would clap, smile, and say good job! Adopt that positivity with your dog and watch him flourish.
If you got a new crate and your little bean is scared of it, put treats around him. Whenever doggo goes for the treat, reward with a small party! Don’t scare your dog with too much partying. Instead, reward with extra treats and maybe even a nice butt scratch. Your dog will eventually associate the crate with super fun times. If your dog hates the vacuum cleaner, implement a similar strategy. If you can enlist help, have someone run the vacuum while you comfort your pup with treats or a toy. Slowly, your dog’s negative reaction will abate to that scary contraption.
During training sessions, I like to mix up my rewards. If my guy does a beautiful, quick spin on command, he gets two treats and a chase session (he LOVES chase; it’s a great reward that doesn’t cost a dime)! Similarly, you’ll see K9s and their handlers using a tug-of-war reward!
When they perform exceedingly well, or nail that trick, make it a party! Say, “Good girl, Cookie” and jump up and down with a huge smile on your face. Studies show that dogs can read emotion on our faces, so use that to your advantage! They’ll know that they did something right and will want to make you party all of the time.
I like to sing to my dog, “Good job Panda, oh yeahhhh! Good boy Panda, oh yeahhhh!”
If you choose to adopt an approach that is too rigid or negative, your dog might start to look for positive stimuli in other places. As a result, your recall will completely suffer. When you’re out on a dog beach and your dog is off the leash, your dog will run all over the place greeting dog after dog, human after human before you’re able to get your dog to come back to you. The reason for the difficulty is that your dog knows the outside world is better than you, so why come back?
Instilling positive culture in your relationship will ensure that when faced with another stimulus your dog will always choose you. That other dog is cool and all but ultimately it’s you, beloved human, that has the treats and fun games. Your dog knows that she’s in good hands with you, that it’s safe and fun by your side.
Time to relate! Remember that one boss you worked for, that no matter what you did, it never seemed to be good enough for them? Your performance more than likely suffered because you knew even if you got it right, this boss would never be pleased.
That boss never said, “Good job!” or gave you a bonus, even though you worked really hard. How did you feel? Did you continue to do a great job? Probably not. Ask yourself whether this boss motivated you or just pissed you off. Maybe in response you shut down. If you are like that boss with your dog, your dog may shut down too! Your dog will grow frustrated and not know what you want. By using positive reinforcement training, you’ll be able to prevent your dog from shutting down.
With positivity flowing through your training sessions, your dog will have fun, and you will see better results.
Now addressing the other side of the coin, using negative reinforcement is sometimes needed! I use negative reinforcement when I need to, but overall my style is positive reinforcement training.
Consistency is key when working with dogs. Reiterate and have fun! Remember to instill a culture of positivity, throw parties with your dog, don’t be a total jerk (or else your dog will shut down), and you will have yourself a happy, working dog!
Watch Zac George go over positive dog training below! I love their point that this is a balanced art and that every dog is different. Adjust to what feels right for your and your doggo.
Zac said it perfectly, “You can’t make a dog do that, you have to make them want to”.
Thanks for reading
and as always, have fun!
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