First, let’s take a quick look at what exactly positive reinforcement is. It certainly isn’t a new concept. In-fact studies were being done on the idea behind positive reinforcement by the early 1900’s. The idea is that if the outcome an action taken ends with a reward, then the behavior is more likely to be repeated. Therefore, positive reinforcement strengthens that behavior. These psychological experiments went on for decades and have lead today’s understanding of positive reinforcement and the conclusion: It works.
Positive reinforcement training is all about making the training experience fun and enjoyable for our dogs. It is, in my opinion, the best way to learn how to train your dog. By using reward instead of punishment we achieve a number of things, such as:
- You get to learn more about your dog, such as what foods and toys motivate them the most.
- Helps build an overall stronger communication between you and your dog. A positive experience leads to a stronger friendship and a tighter bond that is based on trust, respect, and pleasant memories.
- Develop more patience for ourselves! Positive training requires patience for the owner and you will develop more patience overtime starting with short training sessions. And guess what? That is a whole other list of benefits in itself, as we know that being a patient person increases our overall health and helps one to develop understanding, empathy and compassion.
Every dog is different just like every person is different. Positive training forces you to spend more time with your dog and get a better understanding of their personal characteristics. You learn how long they can go without getting frustrated – and yourself as well! But you won’t get frustrated, because you are calm, cool, and collected, am I right? Say yes. Remember:
Some people tend to get frustrated quickly and their first reaction is to take it out on the dog. They choose punishment over patience. Wrong “P” word. If you give up too easily and too soon, you are not really giving your dog the opportunity to begin the learning process. Learning happens from within, and positive training is the force behind getting our dogs to start using their brain and actually thinking.
Frustration leads to punishment such as shock collars, which will only suppress the problem and not actually teach our dog to think. The unwanted behavior returns when the punishment is no longer present. If you are being electrocuted consistently, then of-course you are going to stop talking as well; but have you stopped talking out of understanding with whom it is that wishes for you to stop? Or have you just stopped for the fear of being electrocuted, yet again?
Dogs can understand; but it takes some time and effort. More than that of harsh punishment.
So, instead of causing emotional and physical harm to our dogs -our furry little buddies that the whole reason we get is to bring more joy into our lives- let’s take a positive approach. Let’s get our dogs to start developing good habits by rewarding them for the actions that we like them to do and by curbing the undesired actions through use of reward.
Some people may tell you that harsh punishment (shock collars, hitting, yelling), works and is needed for some dogs. I don’t agree that it is ever needed, and while it may work for some dogs, it certainly is not the best approach. Positive training leads to a more motivated dog and a more motivated dog leads to a quicker learner. The more a dog learns, the quicker they start learning from then on. It is almost like a snowball effect; the dog gets smarter and smarter- and soon the communication between you your dog will be astonishing.
There is a ton of good information out there on positive training; but my personal favorite mentor is Zak George. You can learn a-lot from this guy – I sure did. Positive reinforcement is especially important when learning how to train a puppy, which Zak talks all about in his new book The Complete Guide to Raising the Perfect Pet with Love. Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and train your dog…positively, of-course!