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Training Your Dog Using The Reward Method

Apr 26, 2008
While reward training is commonly viewed as the most current style of dog training, it is actually a lot older than most other methods of dog training. It is likely that the reward training method has been in use since dogs were domesticated thousands of years ago. Early humans likely used some unofficial type of reward training when refining the wolf pups that ultimately became domesticated dogs.

A lot of the ideas about current methods of reward training go back several decades. But what we know as reward training today has only enjoyed its recognition for the past 10 or so years.

Most reward training proponents are not so eager about other methods of dog training, like the leash and collar style. It is likely, though, that the best approach to training your dog will be a mixture of leash and collar training with reward training.

Additionally, a certain training style might work great for one particular dog, but not for another. Some dogs who are not motivated by reward training but do well with the leash/collar method, and other dogs respond well to reward training while leash/collar training does not work at all. Fortunately, the majority of dogs fall somewhere in between.

One of the more popular methods of reward training currently is clicker training. While clicker training does not work for every dog, it can still be a highly useful method of training dogs. The way clicker training works is by teaching to associate a clicking sound with a positive reinforcement, such as a treat. When the dog does something well, the trainer reacts by clicking the clicker, then immediately offering the dog a treat. In time, the dog learns to react to the clicker only.

In reward training the most common type of treat is a food reward. Almost always, complex tricks or behaviors can only be taught using this type of reinforcement. In fact, trainers who train dogs for movies and television use food-based reward training almost totally.

Reward training is used for all types of dog training, including for police and military work. The majority of training in scent detection and tracking utilize a kind of reward training. You can also use reward training in teaching the basic dog training commands.

In reward training a lure is frequently employed to entice the dog into a desired position or stance. The lure helps to convince the dog to perform the sought after behavior of his own volition.

Getting the dog to carry out a behavior without being handled is important. The point of the training, in fact, is to get the dog to execute a behavior without any handling by the trainer.

Once the dog has carried out the commanded behavior, he is rewarded with a positive reinforcement, such as a food treat. Treats are often used in order to reinforce good behaviors, but other positive reinforcements, such as verbal praise, can also be used for reinforcement.

It is important that a reward-trained dog also be a reliable dog. If a dog is trained to do a job, such as police work or drug detection, outside distractions are to be expected. Therefore it is important to train the dog to work and be focused around diversions, as well as to socialize him with other animals and people.

Sometimes dog trainers only train the dog inside the house or back yard, only when the owner is there, free of distractions. It is important to take the dog outside of his comfort zone and introduced to new people and situations.

It is also important that the dog be trained to pay attention to the handler always. When the owner has the complete attention of the dog, he has complete control of the dog. When executed correctly, reward training is a very effective training method that helps to earn the respect and the attention of the dog.
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