Dog Training Using Positive Reinforcement Techniques
Dog training is arguably one of the most important things you can do for your dog. The ability to communicate effectively with your pet is one of the most developed aspects of a dog’s psyche. It enables them to express themselves through various displays of affection such as barking, whining, chasing and attention seeking behaviour. Dog training is basically the application of behaviour analysis that applies the dog’s external environment throughout the process of determining a desired outcome and/or behavior modification that enables the dog to undertake specific behaviours successfully, or at least more easily than they would do otherwise. This applies both to humans and animals and can be used for both obedience training and general behavioural reinforcement.
Although dog training dogs may seem to fall into two broad categories, it is more of a spectrum that must be studied and understood carefully. On one end of this spectrum are behavior modification techniques that are designed to help owners instruct their pets on how to behave in certain situations so that these behaviours become second nature. Examples are behaviour avoidance when outside or in the company of strangers, elimination behaviour around food or water and learning bite inhibition and distraction training. These techniques train the animal by rewarding good behaviour and punishing bad behaviour and then reinforce the new behaviours with praise and treats.
On the other end of the spectrum are those which are designed to teach your dog advanced behaviour or to cure behaviour problems. Some examples are pack leader training, remote training dog or the motivational training model-rival training and sit, stay or heel position. Some other examples are collar and harness training, behaviour avoidance with anti-bark collars, the selective training model where all dogs are taught to stay within a specific pack (ie: the family pack), and the traditional clicker training method. There is also dog training for the handicapped, where the animal has to learn to perform tasks like getting up from a wheelchair or to stand on its hind legs.
Classical conditioning is the process of training an animal through classical conditioning which is a limited response paradigm. Operant conditioning is training using positive reinforcers or operate to lead an animal through an undesired behaviour. For example, the operant conditioning used to train a dog to sit still, remain quiet or stop barking is classical conditioning.
Training a dog through operant conditioning may not be suitable for dogs that are high strung, have poor vision or are temperamental. It can also take a long time to be completely successful and must be performed over a number of weeks. The reward system is a very good way of training a dog if it is used correctly, and the training must be supervised by a responsible owner or trainer. For any dog, training a pet dog can be extremely satisfying but it does require patience and dedication from the pet owner.
Most people believe that their dogs learn from their own actions or habits. This is not always the case. In fact, the word “learn” does not necessarily go with what people think dogs are capable of learning. The term can actually be defined as taking in information, the ability to assimilate it and use it.
There are a vast number of dog training using positive reinforcement techniques that work extremely well for the majority of dogs. Positive reinforcement dog training is the foundation for any obedience program or routine. Teaching dogs should always include basic obedience training as well. Basic training teaches your dog how to please you by walking, sleeping, feeding and training in other commands such as stay, come, sit and so on.
Many hunters feel that their dogs should be taught basic hunting skills before they are sent to hunting dogs. Hunting dogs are used to track their prey, so the importance of positive, effective training is paramount. If your puppy is a natural born hunter, consider taking him for his first hunting class at an early age. It will teach him what you expect from your dog, while still allowing him to enjoy the excitement of being a member of your family.