COMMON POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT OBJECTIONS
DO I ALWAYS HAVE TO USE FOOD TO TRAIN MY DOG?
The consistent use of food is a common Positive Reinforcement objection for many owners. Delivering the food to the bowl and walking away without further effort is enticing because it requires little input or change from us. However, food is primary motivator for your dog so it is an effective tool for you! You won’t be giving your dog more food or treats, you will simply be better utilizing the resources you already allot to your dog. Hand feeding your dog their meals ensures that you are making the time to create the outcome you desire. Hand feeding your dog is recommended throughout the duration of the training plan.
HOW WILL MY DOG KNOW WHEN HE’S WRONG?
Another common positive reinforcement objection that people often express is that they believe the dog has be punished in order to understand what they shouldn’t do. Punitive consequences for unwanted behavior are common in the world at large but that doesn’t mean they are necessary and the science shows that they aren’t particularly helpful. Particularly punishment may exacerbate behaviors like aggression. If your dog associates you with an aversive outcome they are likely to avoid you. Your dog doesn’t have to be told when he’s made a mistake! He’ll understand instantly what works and what doesn’t because he’ll get what he wants or he wont. Provide a safe environment where learning is fun and set yourselves up to succeed through good management, clearly communicated expectations, and the opportunity to ‘work’ for his keep.
Draw from your own perspective.
If your boss tried to compel you to work for little or no compensation what would be your reaction?
What if your boss threatened you and prevented you from leaving. What kinds of emotions would that invoke
BRIBING THE DOG
Bribing implies that the ‘Reward’ is used to prompt behavior. In reality, the ‘reward’ becomes a settlement offered for relinquishing something the dog prefers or has already accessed. The dog understands that they lost out, even if the bribe was sufficient to lure them away from something enjoyable or interesting. Bribing is typically only effective for a short period. This misapplication and misunderstanding becomes another positive reinforcement objection. The dog quickly realizes they would rather continue what they’re doing and you’ll need to use progressively better bribes to entice them to comply.
In Positive Reinforcement we deliver food as rewards to your dog only after actions you want them to repeat. You can also use the food as a barometer to measure your dog’s state of mind and workability. Food is just one tool of many in an effective trainer’s tool kit. While poor timing may result in the reinforcement of an undesirable behavior, that issue is easily remedied through coaching and consistent practice.
Your Coach demonstrated a techniques called ‘Luring’. Using food as a ‘lure’ simplifies communication and breaks down a complex behavior into smaller steps. A lure is typically only used a few times until your dog comprehends the request. Once your dog understands what you’re asking you can reinforce that behavior using ANYTHING the dog finds rewarding.
What are some requests that your dog makes of you throughout the day that you can use instead of a food reward to reinforce good behavior?
OVERCOMING POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT OBJECTIONS
If you’ve lured your dog for any behavior successfully 2-3 times in a row we can assume they have developed a general understanding of what you want. Quickly replace the food lure with a visual cue. Repeat the same gesture, without food in hand. Visual (and later verbal) cues represent a window of opportunity for your dog to earn something they desire.
To lure a ‘Sit’ hold the food to your dog’s nose and lift it up above their nose. Deliver the food promptly upon your dog’s success. If your dog sits promptly when your present the lure 2-3 times in a row, try make the exact same motion only now with an empty hand. Reward your dog promptly with a treat if they follow your cue.
**Attempt no more than 3 times before taking a break or switching to another task.**
Was your dog able to follow your cue without food in your hand?
Training your dog is no different than mastering any other skill set. You won’t have to become a professional dog trainer but achieving your goals WILL unavoidably require acquisition of new beliefs and habits on your part. While training packages such as a Boarding School or Day Training fast tracks your dog through training, they won’t give you a finished dog. It’s up to you to be mindful that your daily interactions with your dog encourage the behaviors you wish to maintain. The work that we accomplish with your dog can be lost if they return to the exact same environment that fostered that behavior in the first place.
It’s natural to feel overwhelmed so we are here to guide you a long this path. We are confident that with a little effort each day you will move the pointer in the direction of the best possible dog. That time will pass anyway so may at well chip a little off the block each day!
Now that you’re a few days out from your Initial Consult it’s natural for the enthusiasm you felt at first to wane. This is natural when presented with any large goal. We want to help you stay proactive about your progress and address any concerns you may have about implementing Positive Reinforcement into your relationship with your dog.
We appreciate the effort you’ve put forth to get the ball rolling and the time you spend working with your dog and completing these support tasks. Select ‘Finish’ to submit your answers!
What questions do you have about your training program? If you are struggling to give your dog the obedience that will enhance their lives schedule an Initial Consultation! Join us remotely for our Weekly Q&A and Nail Trim sessions hosted on Zoom and streamed live through Facebook. On a tight budget? Check out our FREE courses available online.