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Training Principals and Tips  

Training your dog should be an enjoyable experience for you both. The more you understand about how your dog thinks and learns, the more effectively you can communicate. Clear communication means successful training and good behavior - with no need for force or coercion!


1. Behavior that is rewarded is most likely to reoccur. This powerful principal is a key component of reward-based training. Dogs do what works. If your dogs receives praise and a treat for sitting, he is more likely to sit the next time you ask. If he knows that jumping on you will earn your attention, he will keep jumping, as attention is rewarding to him.


2. Dogs learn by association. When training, it is important that the reward closely follow the desired behavior. For example: when teaching your dog to sit, the praise and treat should be given when his rear touches the floor, not after he’s stood up again. On the other side of the coin, reprimanding your dog for something he many have done hours ago (e.g., you come home to find your slippers shredded) is pointless. Your dog won’t associate your yelling with what he’s done, and if it happens often enough, he may begin to fear your arrival home, as you are always angry for no reason he can fathom.


3. Reward behaviors you want, rather than punishing behaviors you don’t want. Most of us are so accustomed to noticing “mistakes” our dogs make that it seems strange to begin to notice and reward “good” behavior. For example, your dog barks, so you yell at him to be quiet. Sure, a barking dog is hard not to notice. But what about when he’s lying calmly? Most of us never consider rewarding calm behavior. so the dog only gets rewarded with our attention (even yelling is attention) when he is doing something inappropriate. Have been rewarded. of course he keeps doing those things! Make a habit of noticing and rewarding your dog for good behavior.


4. Extinction. If a behavior is ignored, it will eventually extinguish on its own. Imagine you are trying to buy a soda from a vending machine. You drop in your change, press the button and wait. Nothing happens. You press the button more forcefully, and try a few others as well. Still nothing. You jangle the change lever. No soda, no change. You might even, at that point, shake or kick the machine. Finally, grumbling to yourself, you give up and leave. In this example, the soda-seeking behavior is extinguished because there was no payoff, no reward. Kicking or shaking the machine is an example of an extinction burst. What that means with your dog is that if you ignore and unwanted behavior, it will eventually stop (unless it is something that is inherently self-rewarding to the dog, such as digging). Before your dog gives up, the behavior may actually escalate. Recognize the extinction burst for what it is, and wait it out-the behavior will eventually stop, and will stop even sooner the next time around. 

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