We love to give rewards to our dogs whenever they do something good. We even give them rewards by doing nothing. That’s how much love we have towards our buddies! We love to feed them, comfort them and make them feel loved. I’m sure as a dog parent you would understand.
Rewarding your dog is a great way to develop his/her behavior. It’s a great help towards dog training. For a more effective training through positive rewards, list down the following guidelines from Humane Society:
1. Timing is everything
Correct timing is essential when using positive reinforcement.
- The reward must occur immediately—within seconds—or your pet may not associate it with the proper action.
- Using a clicker to mark the correct behavior can improve your timing and also help your dog understand the connection between the correct behavior and the treat.
2. Keep it short
Dogs don't understand sentences. You must keep commands short and uncomplicated. The most commonly used dog commands are:
- watch me
- leave it
3. Consistency is key
Everyone in the family should use the same commands; otherwise, your dog may be confused. It might help to post a list of commands where everyone can become familiar with them.
Consistency also means always rewarding the desired behavior and never rewarding undesired behavior.
4. When to use positive reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is great for teaching your dog commands, and it's also a good way of reinforcing good behavior. You may have your dog sit before letting him out the door, before petting him and before feeding him.
Give him a pat or a "Good dog" for lying quietly by your feet, or slip a treat into a Kong®-type toy when he's chewing it instead of your shoe.
5. Shaping behavior
It can take time for your dog to learn certain behaviors. You may need to use a technique called "shaping," which means reinforcing something close to the desired response and then gradually requiring more from your dog before he gets the treat.
6. When to give treats
When your pet is learning a new behavior, reward him every time he does the behavior. This is called continuous reinforcement.
Once your pet has reliably learned the behavior, you want to switch to intermittent reinforcement, in which you continue with praise, but gradually reduce the number of times he receives a treat for doing the desired behavior.
- At first, reward him with the treat four out of every five times he does the behavior. Over time, reward him three out of five times, then two out of five times, and so on, until you're only rewarding him occasionally.
- Continue to praise him every time—although once your dog has learned the behavior, your praise can be less effusive, such as a quiet but positive, "Good dog."
- Use a variable schedule of reinforcement so that he doesn't catch on that he only has to respond every other time. Your pet will soon learn that if he keeps responding, eventually he'll get what he wants—your praise and an occasional treat.
Understanding positive reinforcement will help your dog develop good behavior. As dog parents, we all just want to have good dogs. Remember that all dogs are candidates of developing good behavior!
Positive reinforcement also relies on the type of reward you give to your dog. The reward itself greatly matters. It is important to know that the reward must be something that your dog likes. To better reinforce your dog, take note of these 6 ways of rewarding your dog from Pet4Homes:
1. Stroking Your Dog is a Great Reward!
Paying lots of attention to your dog when they have been good and stroking them affectionately shows them just how happy you are with them. You should never forget that petting and stroking your dog is a huge reward and one which they really enjoy. One thing to bear in mind is that stroking and scratching behind the ear or on their necks is better than patting them which can seem a little aggressive from the dog's point of view!
2. Safe Doggy Treats
The majority of dogs have a favorite doggy treat which you can use to reward them when they have been good or when you want to put them through their paces. However, food treats are great but you need to make sure they are cut into small pieces which your dog can easily swallow during their training session. You can buy safe doggy treats from good pet shops but you might prefer to make your own which is something many dog trainers do because it works out a lot cheaper. The only plus thing about making your own doggy treats is you know exactly what has gone into them. The only downside to food treats is that you might find if you give too many, it will have an impact on your pet's weight!
3. Praising Your Dog is a Great Reward
Dogs love it when their owners praise them and they soon recognize when you are pleased by the sound of your voice. Most dog owners praise their dogs with enthusiasm which is exactly the right way to do it being careful not to be too excited because that might make your dog too excited which is not something you really want them to do. You should never praise your dog too loudly because they could interpret this as you shouting at them which is usually what owners do when telling their dogs off!
4. Letting Your Dog Off the Lead is a Reward
As long as you are in a safe environment, you can let your dog off the lead to run and have some fun. This is a fantastic reward which dogs adore especially if you play interactive games with them like “fetch” which can turn into a great training session that you would both enjoy – the best part is your dog won't see this as training but a great fun game and reward!
5. Toys Can be Great Interactive Rewards
Most people don't realizae just how good a toy can be when used to train a dog because they tend to think that food is the best way to get their pet to learn anything. However, you have to find the right toy to suit your dog. This could be a frisbee, a rope toy or some other toy they loved as a puppy. The great thing about using a toy is they are brilliant interactive rewards that can be used in training sessions too. In short, a frisbee can be used as a way to train your dog to retrieve, but it's also the reward!
However, you should not let your dog have free access to the toys you use as rewards as this will take away the value of them. Instead, you should tuck them away out of sight and only bring them out when you are training or want to have a bit of fun with your four legged friend in the garden or park.
6 . Paying Your Dog Lots of Attention is a Reward
Dogs love to have lots of attention from their owners and see this as a great reward. However, if they are naughty, just telling them off can be seen by dogs as a reward because you have effectively paid them attention. Dogs often misinterpret things and this ends up in a bit of a disaster albeit unintentionally on behalf of the dog because it's more likely to be the fault of their owners!
Dogs have high possibility of continuing the behavior if he/she is rewarded. As their trainers, we must remember to give them just the exact amount of rewards. With this, we can look forward on a well-trained and well-disciplined buddy.