Good Trainers Are Good at Reinforcing

Dogs have an innate desire to please the most important people in life. This trait allows the trainer to use positive reinforcement when training the dog in basic behavior or advanced obedience. Verbal praise, treats, physical affection or toys will work together to communicate the trainer’s satisfaction with the dog. Rewards motivate the dog to repeat the response to a command that has been given.

Effective trainers use a set of cue words that provide consistent prompts for the dog to perform certain behaviors. The standard list of cue words includes:

• Come
• Stay
• Sit
• Down – short for lie down
• Off – to get off the furniture or not jump on a person
• Stand

THE TRAINER’S ROLE

Retaining the dog’s attention is paramount for the trainer since the dog must respond to short, verbal cues. Each of the trainer’s responses to the dog’s behavior must follow basic tenets:

1. QUICK: Good timing retains the dog’s interest in the reward.
2. GENEROUS: Heaps of reinforcement will cause the dog to want to please the trainer even more.
3. UNPREDICTABLE: Different types and amounts of praise will prevent the dog from anticipating the next reward.
4. VARIABLE: Many different reinforcement measures are included in every training session.

STEPS IN THE REINFORCEMENT SUCCESS

Effective training can transform a good dog into a remarkable dog. The trainer should master some basic steps that will bring about great behaviors in the dog.

1. Emphasize the behaviors that the dog is performing correctly each time. Communicate satisfaction with these responses to each command.

2. Select reinforcement tools that are most important to the dog. The rewards can change over time as the dog discovers new favorites.

3. Conduct short training sessions that retain the dog’s interest until the very end. Avoid grueling sessions where the dog loses interest in the first few minutes.

4. Incorporate a “bridge,” which is an affirming word that communicates that the dog is right. Immediate use of the bridge encourages the dog to continue.

5. Use a lure to show the dog the meaning of the command. The trainer should not use hands or the leash to place the dog in the right position. Each response should be under the dog’s control.

6. Effective trainers phase out the lure as soon as the dog is responding correctly.

7. Draw the dog toward the left hand in response to each command. This is consistent with other facets of dog training that include learning to heal.

DESIRED RESULTS

Positive reinforcement throughout the training process will instill proper behavior in the dog. Verbal praise will be sufficient to achieve the desired response for each cue word. Trainers know that consistency and timing shape’s dog behaviour for many different settings. The importance of a well-trained dog cannot be overstated. Safety for the pet and other people is paramount when the dog is in the park or walking down a city street on the leash. Brief training sessions will continue throughout the dog’s life to ensure that the responses are sure whenever the owner speaks.

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