Make it easy: 10 positive reinforcement training tips

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A dog who is given consistent guidance from an early age grows up to be a confident dog. And a confident dog has no need to show undesirable anxiety-based behaviours. But how to give your dog the opportunities and help to thrive in our strange human world? It’s best to start with some basic tips on positive reinforcement training.

1. Dogs learn by associations and consequences of their own actions. Reward your dog immediately once the desired action is taken.

2. Pair a reward with verbal praise in a friendly tone, such as “yes” or “good boy”.

3. Keep all commands short and uncomplicated. Always use the same word for the same action. If your dog doesn’t respond, don’t repeat your command. Chanting commands (“sit-sit-sit-sit” ) ultimately makes it harder for your dog to learn.

4. Don’t expect too much too soon. It takes time for your dog to learn what you want her to do.

5. Food treat rewards should be small in size so they don’t interrupt their regular diet. If your dog is food-motivated, you can use her regular food for training. Also make sure to train when your dog is hungry – train before meals, not after.

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6. If your dog isn’t motivated by treats, keep a favorite toy on-hand for brief playtime as an alternative reward.

7. When your dog is learning a new behavior, use continuous reinforcement by giving your dog a treat EVERY TIME your dog accomplishes the desired behavior.

8. Over time, as your dog gets fluent in the behavior, slowly decrease the number of treats your dog is given while keeping the verbal praise at all times. Ultimately, phase out food treats and replace them with petting and verbal praise.

9. Keep training session short. 3-5 minutes a few times a day is fine.

10. Training should be fun. This is a way to bond with your dog and build trust.


———————————————————————————————– Written by Hellodog. Reviewed by Mr Erik Tamm, CTC, is a certified, force-free trainer that offers both individual training as well as group classes.

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