3 Main Thoughts
I could spend the whole first night of each class emphasizing three main thoughts to the humans while the dogs wait patiently, well excitedly actually, in the cars. The first thought is this: Training is something you should do WITH your dog, not to your dog. Rather than thinking you are the boss of your dog, try thinking of you and your dog as a team and you are building a partnership. This results in happier, healthier and more well-balanced lives for you and your dog.
Another thought: You chose your dog to live with you in your human life. Imagine for a moment if dogs chose humans to live as their pets in the canine world. Wouldn’t you want to be given a fair chance to live successfully and have fun? Why not give that option to your rocking canine? You could think of training a dog means essentially teaching English as a second language. By offering constructive feedback via rewards, you may consider yourself a positive reinforcement trainer. There are many types of training techniques which do work for different people. I have found positive reinforcement training works very well. The pain- and fear-free techniques of positive reinforcement are fun and successful. Encouraging behaviors you like by rewarding Fido for attempting success quickly builds behavior fluency.
In training context, positive reinforcement means to add something to a situation in order to increase the likelihood of the previous action happening again. If you go to work, you get paid. If you have excellent performance at work, you get a Christmas bonus. If you exercise, you have more energy. If you invite friends for dinner, you laugh and have fun. Each of these actions is followed by a positive consequence. Sometimes the action isn’t always something you or your dog wants to do (Premack Principle), but if rewarded, the probability for that action to happen again is higher.
A final thought: Manage your dog’s environment and modify Fido’s natural responses. This is perhaps the most important tool for safety and success. Genetically, dogs are opportunistic scavengers. They are smart beings but they are not physically born with the knowledge of how to safely cross a street or stay out of the garbage or not to chase a squirrel. If you think your dog did wrong, try saying “oops, let’s fix that so that won’t happen again.”
3 Main Thoughts