Most dog training methods are actually based on the owner’s feelings, rather than what actually makes sense to the dog. Take, for example, the “positive reinforcement” dog training. It has become increasingly popular nowadays. With this kind of training, you actually bribe your dog to repeat a behavior by giving them food or toys. When he does a behavior you like, you give him a reward.
But what happens when he doesn’t do the behavior? Well, nothing happens. You don’t give him treats. You don’t show him how to do it. You just stand there, waiting and hoping.
Positive reinforcement training usually involves a clicker device. It is a little metal tab that produces a clicking sound when pressed. Clicker training is actually a type of operant conditioning.
How does a clicker training work, you might ask? The instant when your dog does a desired behavior, you press the clicker. Then, you immediately give him a dog treat. From then on, the dog will learn that whenever there’s a clicking a sound, whatever his behavior is, he will get an instant treat.
What are the Problems of Positive Reinforcement Training?
Positive reinforcement training and clicker devices are a very noble form of training. This method works very effectively in dogs that are food-oriented. And it works very well when you teach them fun tricks where it wouldn’t matter whether they obey you or not. However, it doesn’t work on the following instances:
- Training your dog to come when there are temptations and distractions
- Teaching your dog to stand still while brushing their teeth or grooming your dog at home
- Teaching your dog to be polite around strangers and other animals
- Teaching your dog behaviors you want a civilized family would or wouldn’t do
Think about this: what would happen if there is a squirrel around and you want your dog to come to you, but at that moment he’s not hungry or would rather chase the squirrel than much on a treat? Owners that rely on positive reinforcement training are quite stuck when their dog doesn’t want to do something.
One of the major flaws of positive reinforcement training is that it doesn’t teach your dog to respect you. Bear in mind that respect motivates your dog to be well-behaved even if doesn’t want to.
Why should your dogs have Respect Training instead?
Respect training involves learning from both positive and negative reinforcement. Positive reinforcement encourages your dog to repeat the behavior, while negative reinforcement discourages them from repeating it.
For example when a puppy plays with his mother; if the puppy plays reasonably, the mother responds in a positive way. But if he gets rough, she will quickly growl or bite her puppy. Does that make the puppy depressed and never play with their mother again? No. The puppy is still happy to play, but now more gently.
While positive reinforcement training is intended for a good purpose, it isn’t really the best way for dogs to learn. Dogs learn best from balanced dog training where there can be positive or negative consequences to their actions. By giving positive and negative reinforcements to your dog, he can make a choice whether or not to do the behavior.
Now that you know how dogs can learn best, it’s time for you to teach your dog about some basic commands that can be helpful when tackling a more complex behavioral problem. First, perform obedience training.
The sit command is among the easiest basic commands you should teach your dog. Here’s what you should do:
- Hold a treat close to the nose of your dog.
- Move your hand up to allow his head to follow the treat. This will also cause his bottom to lower.
- When he’s already in a sitting position, simply say “sit”. And then give him the treat and praise him.
Repeat this every day until he mastered it. Then ask them to sit before meals, before leaving for walks, and during instances where you want him calm and seated.
Before you attempt to teach this command, make sure your dog has already mastered “Sit”.
- Ask your dog to “Sit”.
- Open the palm of your hand in front of you and say “Stay”.
- Take a few steps back. Then give him a treat and praise him if he stays.
- Increase the number of steps you take gradually before giving him the treat.
- Remember to always give your pup a treat for staying put even if it’s just for a while.
The “Stay” command can be difficult to master especially for high-energy dogs.
This command is one of the more difficult ones because it is submissive in nature. But with consistency and patience, you can teach your dog to be obedient.
- Look for a good smelling treat and enclose it in your fist.
- Hold your hand to your dog’s snout. When he sniffs it, move your hand to the floor so he follows.
- Then slide your hand along the ground to encourage him to go down.
- Once he’s down, say “Down” and give him a treat and praises.
Repeat this every day. But remember not to push him into a down position.
The “Come” command helps keep the dog away from trouble. It brings him back to you when you lose your grip on their leash or when you accidentally left the door open.
- Put your dog on a leash.
- Go down to his level and say “Come”, while you pull his leash gently.
- Reward him with treats and praises when he comes to you.
As soon as your dog mastered this command, try it without the leash in a safe and enclosed area.
The “Leave It” command keeps your dog safe when he’s getting very curious on a dangerous ground. The goal here is for your pup to learn to ignore something.
- Place a treat in both of your hands.
- Show him your enclosed fist with a treat inside, and say “Leave it”.
- Let him try to get it, but ignore the behaviors.
- As soon as he stops trying, reward him with the treat from the other hand.
- Repeat until your dog masters the behavior.
- Once he mastered it already, only give the treat when he moves away from the first fist and looks up to you.
Note that this command takes a lot of patience, so don’t rush.