Animal Training: Tips For Rewarding A Well-Behaved Pet
The most successful ways to reward your pet for good behavior.
As the age-old saying goes, you can’t always teach an old dog new tricks… or can you? As anyone who has ever tried to train a new puppy to sit or stay will happily tell you, younger dogs may not be any easier to train than their elders. In fact, the key to training your dog and getting them to repeat a certain behavior does not lie in how old they are, but the type of training techniques that you are using in order to teach them a desirable behavior.
One of the easiest and most successful ways to train a dog, both young and old, is to use positive reinforcement. Remember when you were younger how your parents would reward you with money or toys for completing your chores? These rewards are what motivated you to keep doing your chores week after week, right? This same kind of positive reinforcement also works with your pet, but instead of money, they usually care about praise or, more often, food.
Positive reinforcement training allows you to give your dog a reward in order to reinforce a correct behavior or an action that you would like for them to repeat. For instance, if you ask your dog to sit and stay and they comply, you give them a treat. The reward makes them more than likely to repeat the behavior.
However, while rewarding your dog for good behavior sounds like a simple task, it is important that you follow some basic training techniques in order to get results that will last in the long run. Here are some basic tips for rewarding your pet for their good behavior:
Find The Reward That Works Best For Your Pet
When it comes to strong motivators for pets, there is nothing that is more appealing or motivating than food. Treats are fast and easy to dispense to pets, and they work well as a great way to reward behavior immediately. Rawhide chews for example have become a must-have treat for dogs with a taste for delicious treats that not only satisfy their stomach, but also help to aid with their health and digestion. However, food is not the only way to reward your pet. Games such as tug-of-war and fetch also work as a fun way to reinforce your dog’s training.
Be Sure The Reward Comes Right Away
When it comes to positive reinforcement, correct timing is absolutely essential. Your dog will learn faster if you reward them at the exact moment that they perform the desired action. For instance, when teaching your dog to sit, you should give them a reward the moment their butt touches the ground. If you have your dog sit but reward them after they have stood back up, they will think they are being rewarded for standing. Any time you reward your pet too early or too late, they will have a hard time connecting the reward with the correct action.
Move Towards Behavior Rewards Eventually
Once your pet has reliably learned the correct behavior and does not need constant reinforcement, you will want to wean them away from physical treats to actual behavioral rewards. For instance, have your dog retrieve their leash before you go for a walk, or sit before you play their favorite game. This will teach your dog to associate real-life value and rewards with obeying your commands.