Today’s post is by guest contributor Amber Kingsley. This information is not intended to refute, replace or serve as a substitute for information gained from a licensed professional.
Remember when we were little kids and our parents told us that if we were good boys and girls, we’d be sure to get presents from Santa Claus. When Christmas arrived, sure enough, there were gifts under the tree for us. In a way, this is how positive reinforcement works, a reward for good behavior.
Although most dogs aren’t likely to want to wait for December 25th to receive a reward, these techniques are still successful tools when it comes to training. In some cases teaching an animal certain behaviors could save their lives, keeping them away from wild animals or stopping them from going into the street, depending on if you come from a rural or suburban environment.
Good and Bad
Remember to use positive reinforcement techniques wisely, so you’re not baiting your dog or bribing them to perform certain behaviors. It’s also important to know when to use treats or praise at the time that will produce the best results.
For example, if your dog is habitually barking at noises outside and you let him outside each and every time he barks, you are rewarding him with access to the yard for this often unwanted and noisy behavior. Instead, try training him to stop barking and reward him with a treat or affection when he has done as he was told.
Patience and Shaping
You must be patient when you’re training, and you can use shaping behaviors to get the final result you’re seeking. Let’s say you’re teaching your dog to shake hands with you. First, he may simply raise his paw off the ground. Then you can work your way up to getting him to raise it higher until his foot reaches your hand.
Getting your dog to be their best possible self is possible through the use of positive training methods. Check out this infographic on “30 Positive Reinforcement Training Tips For Your Pet.” Remember that animals are just as responsive to love and affection as they are to treats.
Amber Kingsley is a freelance journalist and member of a pet enthusiast/animal lover group in her city of Santa Monica who has donated countless hours supporting her local shelter within operations and outreach. She has spent most of her research writing about animals; food, health, and training.