Essentially, positive reinforcement or conditioning entails rewarding good behavior that you wish to see repeated with rewards, so that the learning experience will increase the likelihood of your dog repeating that particular behavior.
Professional dog trainers who employ the uses of positive reinforcement dog training will attest that they believe not only is this method more pleasant for both dog and trainer, but that the use of rewards in training is much more effective.
Here are some successful positive reinforcement dog training ways for you to facilitate your dog training training process:
Using Meaningful Rewards
Dogs get bored pretty quickly with the routine pat on the head or the verbal praise “good boy”.
To keep the quality of your dog’s learning at a high standard, use tempting incentives for good behavior. Food treats and physical affection are what professional dog trainers refer to as “primary incentives” – in other words, they’re both significant rewards that most dogs respond powerfully and reliably to.
Using The Right Timing
When your dog obeys a command, you must mark the behavior that you're going to reward so that, when he gets that treat in his mouth and he understands exactly what behavior it was that earned him the reward.
Some people use a clicker for this: a small metal sound-making device, which emits a distinct “click” when pressed. The clicker is clicked at the exact moment that a dog performs the desired behavior (so, if asking a dog to sit, you’d click the clicker just as the dog’s bottom hits the ground)
(Read more about Clicker Dog Training)
You can also use your voice to mark desired behavior: just saying “Yes!” in a happy, excited tone of voice will work perfectly. Make sure that you give him the treat after the marker – and remember to use the marker consistently. If you only say “Yes!” or use the clicker sometimes, it won’t have any significance to your dog when you do do it; he needs the opportunity to learn what that marker means (i.e., that he’s done something right whenever he hears the marker, and a treat will be forthcoming very shortly). So be consistent with your marker.
Be Consistent With Your Training Commands
When you’re teaching a dog a command, you must decide ahead of time on the verbal cue you’re going to be giving him, and then stick to it.
So, when training your dog to not jump up on you, you wouldn’t ask him to “get off”, “get down”, and “stop jumping”, because that would just confuse him; you’d pick one phrase, such as “No jump”, and stick with it.
Even the smartest dogs don’t understand English – they need to learn, through consistent repetition, the actions associated with a particular phrase. His rate of obedience will be much better if you choose one particular phrase and use it every time you wish him to enact a certain behavior for you.
How To Reward Your Dog Meaningfully
All dogs have their favorite treats and preferred demonstrations of physical affection. Some dogs will do backflips for a dried liver snippet; other dogs just aren’t ‘chow hounds’ (big eaters) and prefer to be rewarded through a game with a cherished toy, or through some physical affection from you.
You’ll probably already have a fair idea of how much he enjoys being touched and played with – each dog has a distinct level of energy and demonstrativeness, just like humans do.
The best ways to stroke your dog: most dogs really like having the base of the tail (the lowest part of their back, just before the tail starts) scratched gently; having their chests rubbed or scratched (right between the forelegs) is usually a winner, too. You can also target the ears: gently rub the ear flap between your thumb and finger, or scratch gently at the base.
As far as food is concerned, it’s not hard to figure out what your dog likes: just experiment with different food treats until you find one that he really goes nuts for. When it comes to food, trainers have noted an interesting thing: dogs actually respond most reliably to training commands when they receive treats sporadically, instead of predictably. Intermittent treating seems to keep dogs on their toes, and more interested in what might be on offer - it prevents them from growing tired of the food rewards, and from making a conscious decision to forego a treat.
How To Correct Your Dog Meaningfully
The great thing about positive reinforcement dog training is that it doesn't require you to do anything that might go against the grain. You won't be called upon to put any complex, weighty correctional theories into practice, or be required to undertake any harsh punitive measures.
When it comes to positive reinforcement dog training, all you have to do is reward the behavior your wish to see and ignore the behavior that you don't wish to see repeated. Not getting any attention (because you're deliberately ignoring him) is enough to make just about any dog pretty miserable, and thus is also a powerful correctional tool.
The more positive the reward and bigger the fuss you make over your dog when he or she does get it right, the clearer the connection your dog will understand for that particular behavior.
In A Nutshell
Each dog has its own personality, intelligence, tolerance, and trainability. If you compares two teachers: One who shouts constantly and gives you a whack when you mess up, while the other firmly but gently corrects your mistakes, praises your successes, and makes learning fun. Who do you think you'd learn the most from?
Well, your dogs are no different. You can train a dog to do anything canines are capable of doing with good, positive reinforcement and conditioning.
Anyone who wants to develop good behavior and obedience in a dog while at the same time, have fun and build a harmonious happy relationship with your canine friend should learn to apply the skills of positive reinforcement dog training.