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Dog Training, Positive Reinforcement Clicker training and Getting off the treats

Updated on August 12, 2012
My Albert
My Albert

Positive Reinforcement Training

Positive reinforcement rewarding your dog for what they do right, not focusing on the bad behavior, catching them before they mess up and reinforcing that to prevent bad behavior and teach good behavior. Your dog will do anything to make you happy, the key is teaching them how to make you happy, conveying what it is you expect of them. When a dog is trained using positive reinforcement techniques you develop a closer bond with your dog. Your dogs will love to train and training gives you a greater communication with your dogs. With positive reinforcement methods your dogs will strive to make you happy and you develop a greater communication and relationship with your dog.

Clicker training

Clicker training is a popular and effective method of dog training. A clicker is a little noise maker that makes a little click sound. They are available at any dog store. Having a clicker is not a necessary part of clicker training. Any short sound you make like a quick um or yah, yes or whatever you are comfortable with will work. I use a clicker when I am teaching something new. Some trainers use it constantly it’s up to you how you want to continue training. The benefits of using a clicker with behavior modification and basic training are tremendous.

What a clicker does is mark the position, behavior or mood of the dog. Say you are teaching a dog to sit; you click the clicker one time when you get the dog in the sitting position and give the dog a treat. The dog tries to figure out just how they earned the treat, the next time you get your dog in position repeat the click with the clicker and reward the dog. Dogs actually have to think and figure out how they earned the treat, you will find your dog will start learning faster and your communication with them will be much improved from this process.

Creating Treat Dependency

Positive reinforcement training does not mean that your dog will be hooked on treats. It is typical for a dog to want treats for tricks, not many people would volunteer to do a job for free, after getting paid to do the job? Some dogs can get very stubborn about treats for tricks. When I was a child I trained my Rhodesian Ridgeback John Wayne using treats. What I ultimately ended up with was an awesome and sweet dog who would only obey me when I had food in my hand. If I asked him to do as much as sit he would look at my hand and walk away! He weighed 120lbs so I was no match with the wills or force. He was my dog and knew it. It wasn’t that he didn’t love me or respect me because he did. When I said No! That was it for him whatever he was doing he stopped immediately, he always came when I called and followed me everywhere on the farm. The problem was I had taught him to ignore me when I didn’t have treats. He was no dummy and I was! I would go back inside after he refused me and get treats to train him with. Looking back he trained me!

Now I know better I use treats when I begin teaching a new command and stop as soon as possible. The main reward my dogs get is a lot of happy praise and they love it! When I clap my hands and praise them happily they get so happy and excited they just love it, eat it up so to speak. When your dog gets the command you are teaching them start giving them treats selectively, give treats for only the better responses. Do this gradually I teach a command and when I know the dog has got it I don’t give treats unless they do it better or in conjunction with another command. This can take a few minutes to a couple of days depending upon the dog and what I am teaching the dog to do. For example when you teach your dog to sit at first you give a treat every time your dog is sits on command then you will only give treats when the dog sit faster or for a period of time or stay. After they are doing well I don’t give treats for that command anymore just very happy praise.

Then it becomes an automatic thing with a normal amount of praise. Most of the times when you ask you dogs to do something they will get rewarded afterwards anyway. Like sitting during an outing, walking after they sit at the curb is a reward. Sitting while you put their dog bowl down, they are rewarded by getting to eat. Ultimately you are going for them staying in a sit until released but we will get into teaching sit at another time right now I am focusing on getting your dog off of treats for good behavior.

Interactive Dog Toys Keep your dog busy when your gone!

Repeating Yourself

Have you ever noticed some people tell their dogs to sit three times? Sit, Sit, SIT. To get results the first time you say a command, expect results the first time you say it. When you tell your dog to do something they have been trained to do and they don’t do it, in most situations you should not repeat yourself. Just look at those big ears, they heard you the first time you said it and decided for some reason not comply right away. Repeating yourself leads the dog to obey you when they want to. Expect results the first time you say a command. When your dog ignores you make eye contact lean in closer to them, maybe even take a step toward them win the stand off. Each time afterwards should get easier because your dog will learn that you expect results after the first command.

Never give your dog a command you aren’t prepared to follow through on. For example don’t tell your dog to sit and then be to busy to reinforce the command. Always stop when your dog is doing well. It is human nature to keep going when you are having success but don’t! If you stop training while training is interesting and fun for your dog and you, your dog will enjoy training and retain what they learned faster and longer. Give lots of praise, they love it when they make you happy so get happy when you are training and your dog does something well ex. Clapp your hands! Get excited and speak in a happy voice like you would for a child who just made a big accomplishment.

If you go too far when you’re training and you and your dog are having no fun ask your dog to do something simple like sit or leave it and stop training for a while.

Training Methods Poll

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    • jojokaya profile image

      jojokaya 5 years ago from USA

      Very informative hub. Thanks

    • Laura Matkin profile image

      Laura Matkin 5 years ago from Laceys Spring, Alabama

      Play dead! That's my favorite and it's so easy! I will tell you how within a couple of days! Thank you Crickets Girl

      My Granny's nickname was Cricket! We called her Granny Cricket.

    • profile image

      Crickets Girl 5 years ago

      Enjoyed the article, the techniques and positive attitude are bound to make for a good learning experience for the owner and for the puppy. I don't have a puppy. What do you suggest would be a fun thing to teach one of my three old dogs? You are inspiring me to want to teach them a new trick!

    • Laura Matkin profile image

      Laura Matkin 5 years ago from Laceys Spring, Alabama

      OOOHH I love puppies!! You are so lucky over there with a house full of fluffy sweet Shi-tzu puppies! I would suggest you also read my House Training Article. Great tips in there I learned from trial and error plus LOTS of customer feed back. Thank you John and Joyie! I am on my way to look at your puppies.

    • John and Joyie profile image

      John and Joyie 5 years ago from Thailand

      Nice and very informative post. I have a shi-tzu and a poodle at the moment. In fact, my shi-tzu just gave birth to 5 cute puppies. You can see their pictures in one of my hub. By the way, i learned a lot from this article. Might as well try some of your suggestions :)

    • Laura Matkin profile image

      Laura Matkin 5 years ago from Laceys Spring, Alabama

      Thank you!

    • Cardozo7 profile image

      Cardozo7 5 years ago from Portugal

      You're right about everything. I'm glad to see other people training their dogs with positive feedback instead of souting and yelling at the dogs with little results. Nice hub!