Reward training is often seen as the most modern method of training a dog, but reward training is probably much older than other methods of dog training. It is possible that reward training for dogs has been around as long as there have been dogs to train. Early humans probably used some informal kind of reward training when taming the wolf pups that eventually evolved into modern dogs.
Many reward training enthusiasts are less enthusiastic about other methods of dog training, such as the traditional leash and collar method. However, the best approach to training any individual dog is often a combination of leash/collar training and reward training.
In addition, a training method that works perfectly for one dog may be totally inappropriate for another, and vice versa. Some dogs respond wonderfully to reward training and not at all to leash and collar training, while others respond to leash/collar training and are not at all motivated by reward training. Most dogs fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.
Clicker training is one of the most popular forms of reward training these days. While clicker training is not the answer for every dog, it can be a remarkably effective method of training many dogs. In clicker training, the dog is taught to associate a clicking sound with a reward, like a treat. The trainer clicks the clicker when the dog does something good, followed immediately by a treat. Eventually, the dog learns to respond to the clicker alone.
Most reward training uses some sort of food reward, or a reward that is associated with getting food. In most cases, complex behaviors can only be taught using this kind of positive reinforcement, and you will find that the people who train dogs for movies and television use reward training almost exclusively.
Reward training is used in all forms of dog training, including police work and military applications. Most scent detection, tracking and police dogs are trained using some form of reward training. Reward training is also a very effective way to teach many basic obedience commands.
It makes a great deal of sense to get the dog to perform the desired behavior without any physical intervention on the part of the handler. Getting the dog to perform a behavior without being touched is important.
After the dog has performed the desired behavior, it is given a reward, also called a positive reinforcement. Treats are often used as reinforcers, but praise, such as “good dog” or a pat on the head, can also be effective rewards.
Making a dog that has been reward trained a reliable dog is important, especially when the dog has an important job, like police work or drug detection, to do. For that reason it is important to get the dog accustomed to working around distractions, and to properly socialize the animal to both people and other animals.
Many dog trainers make the mistake of only training the dog inside the house or back yard, and only when the handler is there. In order to become a reliably trained companion, the dog must be taken outside the confines of its safety zone and introduced to novel situations.
It is also important to teach the dog to pay attention to the handler at all times. By having the attention from the dog means having control of the dog. Reward training is very effective at getting the respect and the attention of the dog when used properly.
If you’ve missed the first part of this training guide, here it is: Time for puppy preschool: Get the basics for positive dog training
Training with treats and other food based rewards is a great way to motivate your dog and speed the training process along. Most dogs are highly motivated by food rewards, and treat training using this kind of positive reinforcement is used to train all sorts of animals, including tigers, lions, and elephants and even house cats.
Before you begin a treat based training session, however, it is a good idea to test the dog to make sure that food will motivate him through the session. Begin around the dog’s regular meal time by taking a piece of its food and waving it in front of the dog’s nose. If the dog shows an enthusiasm for the food, now is a great time to start the training. If the dog shows little interest or none at all, it may be best to put off the training until another time. Don’t be afraid to delay the start of meal time in order to pique the dog’s interest in training. The advantages of proper training will far outweigh any delay in feeding.
It is generally best to get the dog used to regular feedings, instead of leaving food out all the time. Not only does free feeding encourage the dog to overeat and increase the chances of obesity, but a free fed dog may never be fully motivated in reward based training.
Once your dog has shown interest in the food offered to it, it is time to begin the training. Since you already got your dogs undivided attention by showing it food, now is a great time to start. Give the dog a few pieces of food right away, and then back up a few steps. While holding the food in your hand, so “come here”. When the dog comes to you, praise him effusively and give him a few pieces of food.
After the dog is coming to you easily, add a sit command and hold the collar before you give the food. After the sit command is mastered, other commands, and even some tricks, can be added. Food based positive reinforcement training is the best way to teach a variety of important behaviors.
One good exercise is the sit command, stay, come when called exercise. This exercise can begin with the owner walking the dog, then stopping and asking the dog to sit. After the dog is sitting quietly, the owner backs away and asks the dog to stay. Ideally the dog should continue to stay until called by the owner, even if the leash is dropped. At the end of the exercise, the owner calls the dog. When the dog comes to the owner, it receives food and praise from the owner. This exercise should be repeated several times, until the dog is reliably coming when called.
Once the dog understands the basics of the “come here” exercise, the basic exercise can be expanded, and many games can be created. These types of games can be great fun for owner and dog alike, as well as a great learning experience. Some off leash work can be introduced as well, but it is always best to start with the dog in a safe environment, such as a fenced back yard. For variety, you can try taking the dog to other safe environments, such as a friend’s house, a neighbor’s fenced yard or a local dog park. Try turning the dog loose in these safe places, and practice the come when called exercise. Always praise the dog extensively, scratch him behind the ears and tell him what a good dog he is. The goal should be to make coming to the owner a more pleasant experience than whatever the dog was doing before he was called.
Training a new puppy is not an easy task, but it is very rewarding to see that cute chubby puppy obey your commands; so take a look at this: Time For Puppy Preschool Part 2: Training Your New Puppy
Training dogs using positive reinforcement and reward training has long been recognized as both highly effective for the owner and a positive experience for the dog. Positive reinforcement training is so important that it is the only method used to train dangerous animals like lions and tigers for work in circuses and in the movie and television industry. Proponents of positive reinforcement swear by the effectiveness of their techniques, and it is true that the vast majority of dogs respond well to these training methods.
One reason that positive reinforcement training is so effective is that is uses rewards to teach the dog what is expected of it. When the dog performs the desired behavior, he is provided with a reward, most often in the form of a food treat, but it could be a scratch behind the ears, a rub under the chin or a pat on the head as well. The important thing is that the dog is rewarded consistently for doing the right thing.
Reward training has become increasingly popular in recent years, but chances are some sort of reward training between humans and dogs has been going on for hundreds if not thousands of years.
When understanding what makes reward training so effective, some knowledge of the history of humans and dogs is very helpful. The earliest dogs were probably wolf pups that were tamed and used by early humans for protection from predators, as alarm systems and later for guarding and herding livestock. It is possible that the wolf pups that made the best companions were the most easily trained, or it is possible that these early dogs were orphaned or abandoned wolf pups. Whatever their origin, there is little doubt today that the vast variety of dogs we see today have their origin in the humble wolf.
No matter what type of dog you are working with, chances are it can be helped with positive reinforcement training methods. Based training methods on respect and trust, rather than on intimidation and fear, is the best way to get the most from any dog.
Obedience training is one of the most important and most effective things any owner can do for his or her dog. A properly obedience trained dog is a happy, productive and safe member of the family, while a untrained dog can be destructive and even dangerous.
Dogs are designed by nature to follow leaders, and to look for that leadership. As pack animals, dogs naturally follow the directions of their pack leader. In the absence of a strong leader, the dog may assume this role itself. Dogs that think of themselves as the leader of their human pack can become uncooperative, destructive and even dangerous.
Proper obedience training opens up important lines of communication between handler and dog. The basis of any obedience training program is to gain the cooperation and respect of the animal. This respect cannot be exerted through rough handling methods or mistreatment. It must instead be earned through leadership and proper training techniques.
Basic obedience training consists of teaching the dog what to do and what not to do. When it comes to desired behaviors, it is important for the dog to learn and respond to basic commands, such as heeling when walking, stopping on command, sitting when directed, coming when called and staying where the handler directs.
The list of what not to do is also important when it comes to obedience training. Some of the don’ts of obedience training include: not jumping up on people, not forging ahead when walking and, not chewing the furniture or your property, and not getting out of control when exposed to novel situations.
Be sure that your dog is ready to go out: House and Crate Training 101: How To Crate Train Your Dog
In essence, obedience training involves establishing the social hierarchy that is so important to dogs as pack animals. When your dog follows your obedience commands, such as: come, stay, sit, heel, etc., he or she is showing compliance and submissiveness. This is the same type of behavior a submissive member of a wild dog pack would show to the alpha dog in that pack.
As with any type of dog training, it is important that obedience training sessions be fun and rewarding for both dog and handler. A happy, healthy dog will be best able to learn, and keeping the dog happy during the training sessions will make life easier for both yourself and your dog. Obedience training has many benefits for the dog as well as the handler. For one thing, a well-trained, obedient dog can be permitted a larger amount of freedom than an untrained dog. For instance, a dog that has been properly trained to come when called can safely enjoy some off leash play time at the local park.
There is always a debate over whether it is easier to obedience train puppies or older dogs. The fact is that both puppies and older dogs can be successfully trained to be willing, obedient companions. It is generally easier to train puppies and young dogs than it is to retrain dogs that have developed behavior problems. Even problem dogs, however, can be successfully trained using basic obedience training and control concepts.
When obedience training puppies, however, it is important to remember that puppies generally have a shorter attention span than to do full grown dogs. It is important, therefore to keep training sessions short in the beginning. It is also important to incorporate lots of play with other puppies, dogs and other animals, as well as lots of different people. Proper socialization is very important to creating a safe, healthy and happy companion dog.
There are many obedience training classes held everywhere, and new puppies and dog owners are encouraged to enroll in one of these classes. Not only do puppy kindergarten and dog obedience classes provide important structure for the dogs, but it provides important chances for properly socialization the puppy as well.
Rewards just may be the single most important motivator in dog training. Obedience training through the use of rewards and other positive reinforcements has long been recognized as the most effective method of reaching most dogs and getting the best possible results.
Making obedience training fun, and even making it a bit of a game, can be very important to keeping both the dog and the handler motivated and willing to learn. Incorporating a period of playtime at the beginning and end of every training session will make sure that every session begins and ends on a good note.
The most basic of all obedience commands is heeling, or walking with the handler on a loose lead. This is usually the first obedience behavior that is taught, and it is an easy one to teach through reward training. Begin by fitting the dog with a quality, properly fitted training lead and training collar. If you are unsure of how to fit the training collar, be sure to ask a dog trainer or the manager at the store where the equipment is purchased.
Start walking with the dog, always being cognizant of the dog’s position relative to your own. If the dog begins to forge ahead, gently pull on the leash. This will engage the training collar and give the dog a gentle reminder to slow down. It may be necessary to apply greater pressure at first until the dog learns to accept the correction.
If the dog begins to fall behind, slow down and gently urge the dog forward. The use of a lure, or a favorite toy, can be very useful when teaching the dog to walk at your side. By keeping the lure at the desired position for the dog, he or she should quickly learn the desired location.
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Always be sure to provide plenty of praise, treats, toys and other rewards when the dog does what is expected of him. Dogs learn best by positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement means that when the animal does what the handler wants, it receives a reward, which can be anything from a pat on the head to a treat to a favorite toy. At the beginning of training, even the slightest attempts to please the owner should be rewarded.
Training by using reprimands and punishment is not nearly as effective as training by using rewards. Dogs can become discouraged and confused by excessive amounts of punishment and reprimands. Reprimands may be required from time to time, to correct potentially dangerous behaviors like chasing or biting, for instance, but reprimands should be short and directly attributed to the problem behavior at hand. After the immediate danger has passed, the training should continue with reward based training and positive reinforcement.
For instance, if you come home and your dog is chewing the furniture or other inappropriate item, immediately give the dog a sharp “No” or “Off” and take the item away. Then immediately give the dog one of his toys or other items that he is allowed to chew on, and praise the dog enthusiastically when he takes the toy and begins to chew it. This will teach the dog to associate chewing some items, like his toys, with praise, and chewing inappropriate items with reprimand.
It is very important for the dog to make these associations, since it is very hard to change negative associations once they have formed. It is always much easier to train proper obedience behaviors the first time than it is to go back and retrain a problem dog later on. That does not of course mean that retraining is impossible, it simply means that it is more difficult.