Monday, December 28, 2009

Keep it Positive!

You hear the term "Positive Re-enforcement" a lot these days, but many people still are not quite sure what it means. I will do my best to explain this most important of dog training philosophies.

First let's not think of positive as 'good' or 'right' let's look at it like a + sign. We are ADDING something to a dogs environment that increases the likelihood that a desired behavior will occur again in the future.

Re-enforcers for dogs are things like food, toys and praise. Basically anything your dog values and will work to earn.

So then, to positively re-enforce your dog, you simply give them what it is they value immediately following a desired behavior.

Yes, it is that simple.

Now, you will want your dog to start offering the desired behavior for as little reward as possible. This way you wont have to have chicken in your pocket at all times for your dog to listen to you!

Begin a schedule of variable re-enforcement. That way your dog wont know when the reward is coming and will always comply hoping that this time will be THE time! When weaning your dog off treats for example, do not allow the to see the treat until AFTER the behavior is preformed. The dogs' behavior should earn the treat, the treat should not earn the behavior.

Remember that positive re-enforcement is NOT the same as physically forcing your dog into a behavior and the rewarding them afterward. Your dog needs to learn on their own!

Timing is imperative! You MUST reward your dog within seconds for them to associate the behavior with the re-enforcement.

Well, I hope that clears some things up...

Happy Training!

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