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The Importance of Positive Reinforcement!

Wag N' Wash
Published on: January 24, 2017

The Importance of Positive Reinforcement – January is National Train Your Dog Month, started by the Association of Professional Dog Trainers in 2010 to bring awareness to the importance of socialization and training. They emphasize the fact that training your dog can be both easy and fun! Many people get new dogs and puppies for the holidays, so January is the perfect time to embark on training, whether it’s starting from scratch or polishing up already developed skills.

One great training method is the use of positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement focuses on the use of treats and praise to reward your dog for doing something the way you want them to. The reward makes them more likely to repeat the good behavior again.

One of the keys to successful reinforcement is timing. The reward you’re using should be given immediately after the appropriate action is performed, otherwise, your pet may not make the correct association. Using a clicker training tool to mark the correct behavior can also be helpful. This way, you can improve your own timing and your dog will better understand the connection between the correct behavior and the reward.

Keep in mind that your dog only understands certain things you say, so it’s important to keep it short. One or two word commands like sit, stay, come and heel work best. It’s also important that the commands stay consistent, and that everyone in the family uses the same commands. Consistency also means always rewarding the good behavior while ignoring the bad. The wrong behavior doesn’t need to be punished, simply ignoring it will let your dog know that it’s not what you want.

There are also a few things to remember when choosing the right training treat. The treat should be something enticing and irresistible to your dog. It should be fairly small and something that they can eat quickly so that it leaves them wanting more. Keep a variety of treats handy so that your dog wont get bored, and it’s easier for you to to keep their interest on you.

Finally, try to use happy-toned verbal commands along with the treats. After a while, vary whether the reward is a treat or praise. Keeping it unpredictable will make sure your dog listens whether or not you’re holding a treat. Remember that training is supposed to fun! Enjoy the time you and your companion animal get to spend together!

Talk with a Wag N’ Wash team member about the variety of training treats available and which is the best fit for you.