Become a Dog Trainer in Minutes!
By David Steinberg
This article is for everyone – from seasoned dog trainers to the complete novice. After reading this, you will be well on your way to dog training stardom (it’s a thing, we promise). If you have any questions at all, call or email DPS for free advice at (860)612-8340 or [email protected]
How to Reward Positive Behavior
(1) Get your dog’s attention; (2) Say the command; (3) Wait patiently for your dog to perform the desired behavior; (4) When your dog performs the desired behavior, simultaneously make the sound of your marker (e.g., “Good boy,” a clicker sound, etc.) and give your dog a reward (a treat or toy); (5) Immediately thereafter, offer your dog praise and affection.
Dog Training Term List
- Fido: A generic dog name used for purposes of this article.
- Reward: A treat, toy or other prize given to Fido when he displays positive behavior. The reward must be given to Fido within 3–5 seconds.
- Marker: A sound that is used at the same time or slightly before giving a reward to Fido. A marker can be a phrase (“Good Girl”), a word (“Yes!”), or a sound (like a dog-clicker sound) and is used the instant Fido listens properly.
- Marker Training: Training necessary to teach Fido to associate the marker sound with a reward. To accomplish marker training, simply make the sound of your marker, then give Fido a treat. Do this about ten times, or until Fido looks for a treat after he hears the sound. After marker training, use your marker every time Fido displays positive behavior in training or in general. Every time the marker is present, Fido will know he is getting praised for doing that behavior. This is a great way to speed up training.
- Jackpot: An extra reward for Fido when he learns a new command, or when you need to jumpstart a failing training session. When a jackpot is warranted, give Fido a reward of about 2–5 times the size of his normal reward. When you give Fido a jackpot, you are effectively telling him, “This is exactly what I want you to do.” While jackpots normally take the form of a higher quantity of rewards, you can also offer Fido a jackpot by using a higher quality of reward. For example, you can offer Fido treats using boiled chicken or freeze dried liver instead of his typical dry treats.
- Shaping: The process of reaching the behavior we want by breaking up the desired behavior into manageable steps. For example, if our goal is to have Fido “stay” for 10 minutes, we would “shape” this behavior by teaching Fido to “stay” for a goal of one minute, before graduating to two minutes, then three, and so on. Gradually, Fido will get closer and closer to exactly what you want through managing appropriate expectations based on how far he is in the learning process.
It’s Not About What You Do, It’s How You Do It: Training Fido is not as easy as saying “Yes” and then giving him a treat. Dog training requires the use of nonverbal communication, patience, enthusiasm and overall positive energy. Without this personality aspect, dog training becomes boring and ineffective.
Amount of Time Required to Train a Dog: To effectively train Fido, you will likely need to perform 2–3 training sessions per day for about 5–30 minutes at a time. The number of days required will depend on the desired behavior. In order to progress through the steps of behavioral training, the behavior must be “shaped.”
Say it Once: Never say a command more than once. We don’t want “Come” to turn into “Come, come, come, come!” Think twice before you let your dog condition you into saying a command 50 times before she does anything for you. If they aren’t listening, reset the exercise and get their attention again before restarting.
Tell Your Dog What You Want Them to Do: Oftentimes, we get stuck yelling “Off!” or “No!” to our dogs. Positive Dog Training is all about telling your dog what you want them to do, instead of telling them to stop a behavior we don’t want. Next time your dog is displaying a negative behavior, promptly ask them to perform a positive behavior, then reinforce and praise them for doing the correct thing. Overtime, they will learn what is expected of them in certain situations.
A Well Exercised Dog is a Well Behaved Dog: Training is easier and behavior is better when your dog is well exercised. Eliminate many unwanted behaviors by giving your dog at least two big sessions a day of something like walking, tugging, chasing, or running.
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David’s Pet Services (DPS)
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(860)612-8340 – [email protected]