There’s no doubt about it — positive behavior reinforcement provides an excellent foundation for the development of a well-mannered dog.
There are many steps that dog owners can take at home to help shape a dog’s behavior. The best approach to take is one that involves positively reinforcing a dog who engages in desirable behaviors. Training should be an enjoyable experience for you and your dog.
That being said, if you are not in the right mood for training, don’t even start. When you are ready, keep training sessions short (5-10 minutes) to maintain your dog’s motivation. If your dog doesn’t respond appropriately to a command after several attempts, don’t reward him. Resume training a few seconds later using a simpler command. Return to the more complex task later.
The benefits of positive behavior reinforcement are numerous and are well supported by scientific research.
Here’s a look at the key benefits of positive behavior reinforcement for your dog.
Key Elements of Positive Behavior Reinforcement for Your Dog
Positive behavior reinforcement involves the use of praise or a treat to reward a dog for exhibiting good or desirable behaviors. Positive reinforcement for a job well done is increasingly recommended over punishment or negative reinforcement to promote good behavior in both puppies and adult dogs. The underlying principle of positive behavior reinforcement is to steer your focus away from negatively responding to attention-seeking behaviors and toward the development of positive behaviors.
Top 5 Benefits of Positive Behavior Reinforcement
1. Scientific studies support the use of positive behavior reinforcement with dogs. Perhaps the best advantage of positive behavior reinforcement over other behavior shaping strategies is the many scientific studies that support the use of positive reinforcement. The field of animal behavior is constantly evolving and research is increasingly supporting the effectiveness of positive reinforcement in shaping the behavior of dogs.
2. Reinforcement of positive behaviors builds your dog’s confidence. Dogs that are repeatedly punished for misbehaving can develop poor confidence and can begin to suffer the effects of a broken spirit. This is especially the case if punishment repeatedly occurs without any positivity from the dog’s family. Positive behavior reinforcement gives your dog’s confidence a boost by making him feel good about learning new behaviors. The result is a happier, more spirited dog that approaches learning with eagerness as opposed to fear.
3. Everyone in your household can provide positive behavior reinforcement. The simplicity of positive behavior reinforcement enables your whole family to take part in rewarding your dog’s good behavior. Even small children can learn how to spot desirable behaviors and reward your dog with praise or treats. In fact, children can learn a lot about the importance of displaying good behaviors when they participate in positive behavior reinforcement strategies.
4. Positive behavior reinforcement helps prevent your dog from “freezing up” due to fear. Training methods that involve the use of punishment or negative reinforcement can cause your dog to freeze due to fear of engaging in a behavior that may be punished. This can ultimately delay a dog’s development and learning of positive behaviors. Because positive behavior reinforcement strategies only focus on rewarding your dog for exhibiting good behavior, the tendency to experience freezing or stage fright is eliminated.
5. Your dog will look forward to training sessions. Your dog will look forward to learning new commands and behaviors when positive behavior reinforcement is used in training. Whether the positive reinforcement arrives in the form of a treat, a click and/or verbal praise, your dog will approach the learning process with anticipation as opposed to trepidation.
Bonus: Check out these five great training tools that will help with your positive behavior reinforcement strategy.