Saturday, September 19, 2009

Rewarding the Good

We cannot stress enough the importance of positive reinforcement while you and your dog learn the family rules!

Some dog trainers will tell you that dogs are dominant creatures and if you're not dominant over them your dog will lose respect for you. Frankly - we think this is hogwash. We'll talk more about why we disagree in a later entry. For now, here are some tried and true training tips that we'd like to share.

Have fun. If you are getting frustrated or upset during a training session - take a break and come back to it later.

Be patient.

Find out what motivates your dog the most. For Rosie - it's food - hands down. For some dogs it's toys, belly rubs etc. If it's food, what food is best? If it's toys, which toy is the most motivating?

Be proactive and reward your pup for doing right. This is why it's so important to know what is the best motivator for your pup. When your four legged friend does what you want her to do - make sure she get's credit!
Make sure that you don't reward for what you don't want. If they're being demanding - don't give them attention - give it when they're being polite and waiting patiently - unless you want a pushy pup...

One example of this Rosie and I have been working on is walking by other dogs when she is on her leash. She used to pull on her leash and try to go say "hello" which is not always convenient or safe. I started taking out a treat and getting Rosie's attention when we walked passed other dogs. Rosie would look up at me and once we'd walked safely by the other dog with no leash pulling, Rosie would get the treat. I no longer take out a treat every time, because I can easily get Rosie's attention and keep her focus on me when we walk passed other dogs. It's great and the whole training process has been fun, positive and stress free for both of us.

We will share more training tips in the weeks to come - if you start by focusing on these though, you'll have the foundation you need for many years of successful team work with your dog!

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