Perfect Puppy Training Book – Chapter 1 – Reward-Based Training
Chapter 1 – Reward-Based Training
The techniques here use modern, reward-based methods of training based on scientifically proven results. More and more puppy owners are discovering that, by training their puppies with positive methods, they get more positive results.
This wasn’t always the case. Long ago, it was the standard to use punishment to train dogs. When training an exercise, an owner would watch his dog intently. The second she did something wrong, he would immediately yank her collar to cause her discomfort or pain. For some dogs, this did produce results; they learned to avoid punishment by only doing certain things. What became apparent over the years, however, was that this method of training also sometimes caused undesirable side effects, including shyness, aggression, and distrust of owners. Some dogs would just shut down because they were confused. They figured it was easier not to do anything than to try something that would risk punishment. Unfortunately, some owners mistook this helplessness as a good thing. A dog who held a 45-minute down-stay but who was afraid to move and miserable the entire time, was thought to be a well-behaved dog.
You don’t have to settle for good behavior from an unhappy puppy. You can have both a happy puppy and a well-behaved puppy all rolled into one. It all depends on how you teach her.
Dog training has evolved a lot over the years. Today, we know that we can achieve results without resorting to using punishment. Think of the last time you learned something completely new. Did the person teaching you yell at you every time you got something wrong? Did he rap you on the knuckles? If so, you may have learned the task, but how did you feel during the instruction? Were you afraid to make a mistake? How did you feel about the teacher?
Perhaps you had a different experience. Did you have a teacher who showed you what to do and praised you when you did well? Did you earn extras in class, like chocolate or gift certificates? How did you feel during the instruction? Did you look forward to the class?
The difference is the training philosophy. You can either focus on what your puppy does wrong, or focus on what she does right. If you focus on good behavior and reward it, your puppy will perform those good behaviors again and again.
Advantages of Reward-Based Training
Reward-based methods don’t just work with “easy” dogs—they work with all different breeds and different types of dog personalities. One great advantage is that you don’t have to be physically stronger than your puppy to get her to do what you want. With old-fashioned training, whoever could muscle the dog into doing something got results. But what if your puppy is an exuberant 40-pound Golden Retriever mix? You want your puppy to respond for all members of your family, not just those who are stronger than she is. What good is it if your puppy stops jumping on the adults but continues to leap on the kids? Reward-based training does not rely on brawn; it relies on brains. You don’t out-muscle your puppy—you outsmart her!
Another great advantage of using reward-based methods is that it works very well with puppies that are shy or timid. If you try to train a scared puppy by punishing her every time she does something wrong while learning a task, you’ll likely create a terrified puppy. This puppy may start lifting her lip or growling or snapping at you because she is afraid. She’s trying to make the scary teacher go away. By using reward-based methods with a shy dog, you’ll teach the puppy that learning is fun. She’ll gain confidence the more she learns, and she’ll be more likely to become bolder and less afraid of her environment and the people around her.
A common myth about reward-based training is that it’s for permissive puppy parents and that, if you use positive methods, you’ll end up with a puppy that walks all over you and thinks she’s “the boss.” This is not true. Just because you use positive methods doesn’t make you a pushover! You can easily use rewards and still be the leader of your pack. You should still set up rules and a structure for your puppy to live by. If you use reward-based training methods, it’s actually easier for you to be in charge because you’ll control all the good things your puppy wants.
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