Reinforce Good Dog Behavior with Real Life Rewards

August 18, 2011 | By More

Just Rewards

There is a saying among PR dog trainers… “Nothing in Life is Free.” Also called “Say Please” or “Mother May I?” Along with using treats, toys and praise to train our dogs, we continue reinforcing good behavior by using real life rewards (i.e. going for a walk, playing frisbee, running in the park). Before he runs to the back yard to play, your dog should sit. Before he jumps in the car, ask him to sit. Before you put down his meals… yup, you guessed it!

For everything you do for your dog throughout the day consider asking for something in return. The dog is not entitled to things he wants, he must earn them.

Do you have a dog that brings her toy over and drops it in your lap to initiate play? Or bumps your hand to pet her? Cute as this may be, it’s your dog saying “Yo, pet me!” or “toss my frisbee for me!” …and you dutifully comply. Try a subtle change in behavior (yours) by asking your dog to sit, then pet her or pick up her toy and initiate play. This subtle change can make a big difference in your dog’s overall behavior.

Does your dog rush into the dog park to say hi to all his friends while you are still wrestling to get his leashes off?  He is not entitled to run over to his friends as soon as your reach the park.  Practice teaching him to “sit” (think ‘mother may I go play’) first, and then releasing him to join the others  This is just good manners.

If you are in training with your dog, you can add new behaviors as he learns them. “Down” “come” “stay” for example, also work for earning real life rewards. You can even teach a few tricks like “twirl” “curtsey” and “high five.” And the best part? Your dog will enjoy that walk, meal, ride, play, etc. all the more for having earned it.

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Category: All Posts, Dog Training Tips

Comments (1)

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  1. Hirofumi says:

    My comments here are mlerey my opinion, and are in no way intended to insult anybody or to suggest that trainers are completely wrong to use e-collars. I have the greatest respect for Rick Smith and all of the excellent professional trainers out there, but I have to say I have been and always will be against the use of e-collars. I understand why they are used, and in the right hands they are effective and mostly humane. I always have to ask How were the Germans able to train such incredible pointers before the advent of electricity? The answer I think, lies in time and patience. E-collars are a great time saver, but in my opinion, they are no more effective at training a good dog than simply taking the extra time and being very, very patient with your dog. I have trained several German Shorthaired Pointers (an energetic and difficult breed to train), yet all of them turned out to be amazing bird or field trial dogs. All without the use of e-collars.The biggest problem I have is with people who use the collars with absolutely no concept of their true purpose, or how harmful they can be when used improperly. I have actually seen a professional trainer repeatedly bring a dog to its knees with the use of a shock collar, simply because the dog was headstrong and the trainer had no patience at all. I challenged him to try the collar on himself. He hasn’t used one since and is producing some truly amazing dogs. My lesser problem lies in the belief that many trainers are looking for shortcuts to training and don’t want to spend the time and patience needed to effectively train a dog. It really does take time to train a good hunter, and the europeans managed it for hundreds of years without e-collars.In summary, I believe e-collars can be an effective training tool, but ultimately they are mlerey time-savers and are simply unecessary if you take the extra time with your dog. But it does take a lot of extra time. If you must use an e-collar, wait until you have laid a very solid foundation before introducing the collar.