Dog training is becoming more popular and with it reward-based training. Understanding reward-based training and properly applying this method is the key to a successful training experience. Although reward-based training has one main principal, the use of a reward to increase and maintain a taught behavior, there are more elements to it. I often find myself answering the following questions for my students: What is the best reward for my dog? What and when exactly should I be reinforcing and when should I stop reinforcing? Often, new dog owners and/or first time dog trainers are overwhelmed by the large amount of new information but should not be discouraged. Here are some quick notes to reinforcement and its main ideas.
Motivation: Different Ways To Motivate Your Dog
Having a motivated dog in class will increase learning and performance throughout the course and training sessions. Take a moment to find your dog's own motivational drives. Motivational drives are those that cause excitement and encourage a dog to perform. Every motivational drive will cause a different response according to how much the dog wants the reward. For example, as soon as my dog sees me getting hot dogs ready for training he will basically sell his soul to get them. Food, or food motivation, is the most common reward that will increase your dog's performance.
How Dogs Learn – Operant Conditioning
You may be asking "Why do I need to know about Operant Conditioning when what I really need to know is how to get my dog to sit or stay or walk on a lead without pulling. In reality, knowing how to use the "Laws of Learning" to your advantage will make all the training you do much, much easier. If you are using clicker training, you are using Operant Conditioning, even though you may not fully understand WHY it works.
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