Scientific research has shown that positive reinforcement provides an excellent foundation for raising a well-mannered dog.
Training a puppy should be an enjoyable experience – both for you and your pet. Therefore, the best approach is to positively reinforce a dog who exhibits desirable behaviors instead of punishing him for undesirable ones.
What is Positive Behavior Reinforcement?
Positive reinforcement involves delivering praise or rewarding a treat to a dog for good behavior. More and more trainers are applying this technique instead of punishment – or negative reinforcement – to teach puppies and adult dogs how to behave.
Positive behavior training is based on the following key concepts:
- Positive reinforcement allows your dog to make a choice.
- Punishment such as yelling, hitting or kicking should be avoided as these methods can only increase stress and aggression.
- Your dog often disobeys due to lack of communication. He may not understand what you want.
- Dogs cannot speak so humans need to learn how to read their body language.
Positive behavior reinforcement training often entails rewarding treats, toys or actions that your dog loves the most such as freeze dried liver, chicken, cheese, a squeaky ball, or a belly rub. Once you have learned how to communicate with your dog through his favorite treat, you can guide him toward positive behaviors.
How Dogs and Owners Benefit from Positive Reinforcement
Here are some of the benefits of positive behavior reinforcement.
1. Establish effective communication.
Positive behavior reinforcement helps you communicate effectively with your dog. For example, when you reward him for doing things correctly, he is more likely to repeat those good behaviors in order to please you.
With punishment, the communication is not always clear. For example, your dog accidentally soils the carpet and you yell at or smack the dog with a newspaper. Although your intention is to tell him that eliminating on the carpet is wrong, your pet might feel that it is not safe to do his business when you are around. This is one of the reasons why many dogs have accidents when left alone or in hidden places.
Instead of punishing your dog when he pees inside the house, reward him when he pees on his pad or outside the house. Every time your dog eliminates outside, give him lots of praise, treats or play time.
2. Build confidence in your dog.
Punishing your dog for bad behavior can develop low esteem in your canine pal. On the other hand, positive behavior reinforcement gives your dog a confidence boost so that he is happier and more engaged during training sessions.
3. Get the family involved.
Positive reinforcement is one way to get the entire family involved in training your pet. Unlike traditional dog training methods, it does not require special skills nor will it put any family member in potential danger. Even small kids can get in on the act.
Try giving your children a handful of dog treats and teach them the same commands you train your dog. This way, they will spot desirable behaviors and reward your dog the same way you do.
4. Reduce fear, anxiety, and aggression.
Fear is never an effective way for a dog to learn good behavior. Training methods that involve punishment or correction can make your dog freeze due to extreme fear of making a mistake.
Positive behavior reinforcement techniques only focus on rewarding your dog for good behavior so it eliminates fear and might even reduce anxiety and aggression.
5. Training is always an enjoyable experience.
Boredom is often the reason behind bad behaviors such as digging, excessive chewing and destroying objects in the house. Short training sessions are one way to keep your dog busy and burn off all that excess energy. Positive behavior reinforcement also provides mental stimulation so that your dog looks forward to learning new commands each day.
Why you should start positive reinforcement today
Positive reinforcement creates a strong bond between you and your dog based on mutual respect. While dominance-centered training methods focus on teaching your dog how to behave, positive behavior reinforcement actually strengthens your relationship.
While positive reinforcement may seem all fun and games, you should always remember that this is not playtime. These are training sessions where your goal is to teach your dog good behavior. Therefore, if you are not in the right mood for training, do not even start.
Then, limit training sessions to around 5 to 10 minutes to keep your dog motivated. If your pup does not respond correctly to a command after several attempts, do not reward him. Instead, take a break and try a simpler command later.
If you are based in St. Charles or St. Louis, MO, and you think your pup might have a behavior problem and you are unable to train him with positive behavior reinforcement, we can help. Here at Positive Paws, we customize our training programs to meet the needs of individual pets. Book an appointment today!
Call us at 636 352 3104 or click here to get in touch through contact form.