Here at Barks N Purrs, we love to provide positive reinforcement to our furry friends and give our clients some tips on how to do so too! The month of January celebrates training your pet, so we thought we could share some examples of how to train your pet in a positive way.
- Use praise and rewards
The easiest (and tastiest) form of praise is the good ol’ treats! Have a treat at hand throughout your day so that you are ready to praise for good behaviour. If your dog is not that into treats or you do not have treats available, use something else that they love like a toy, game, or verbal praise. After time, you will not have to offer a physical reward, but rather just verbal praise will be enough.
- Keep the training short
Keeping a training session short can help you and your pup maintain a positive attitude about training. Since dogs can sense your mood and your frustrations, keeping it short and maintaining the right attitude is a key to success. Having your sessions be fun and upbeat can help develop your dog’s love for training and they will offer you desired behaviours on their own in no time. Once fido or yourself are no longer feeling the training, end the session on a positive note and move on to something else.
- Be consistent
Consistency is important if you want your dog to learn your desired behaviours. Frustration can occur while training your dog, so you must remember to relax, maintain a cool head, and keep at it. There will only be confusion if you have a desired behaviour that you praise only some of the time. Start off with the small things that you want to train your dog to do so that being consistent is easy. Your dog may be the one learning how to perform tricks or tasks for you but remember that you are learning how to properly train them too. Start off slow and easy so that consistency will not be a problem and you will both move up from there.
Timing is crucial when training your dog and must be immediate after the desired behaviour occurs. If your dog does something good and you leave the room to go fetch a treat for them, they will not understand what they are getting that treat for. Make it a pattern: ask a command, action occurs, immediate praise. If you usually praise with a treat and you do not have one at hand, offer praise or a toy if you have one instead and save the treats for next time.
Positive reinforcement strengthens the bond you have with your dog. It helps you maintain clear communication and avoid any confusion regarding bad behaviours that adverse training would give them. You want your dog to WANT to do things for you and with you. Positive training will get you there. Imagine if your dog ran away and was lost – would a dog who experiences punishment want to come back? Probably not out of fear of the consequences. A dog who experiences positive reinforcement and praise would jump at the chance to return because they are not scared of what will happen when they do but rather be looking forward to some love and treats.