Reinforcement can include treats, praise, petting, or a favorite toy or game. Since most dogs are food motivated, treats can work especially well for training. Next to food and toys, dogs love attention! Instead of or in addition to using treats and toys during your next training session, reward your dog by providing praise, affection, or applause. Yes, clapping for your dog. He will love it! When your dog performs a skill you have been trying to perfect, tell him “Good Boy!” in a happy, upbeat tone and applaud his efforts. You both will find training much more enjoyable with the extra affection added to your training sessions.
The do’s of using food~
- A treat should be irresistible to your dog. Experiment a bit to see which treats work best.
- Treats should be a very small, soft pieces of food, so that your dog will be able to immediately eat the treat and look to you for more. Avoid treats that your dog has to chew or that breaks apart into pieces on the floor.
- Keep a variety of treats handy so your dog will stay interested in what is coming next. Place all types of tasty treats in a bag that will become a smorgasbord for your dog.
- Each time you use a food reward, pair it with a verbal praise. Say something like, “Yes!” or “Good” in a positive, upbeat voice.
When to give treats~
When your dog is learning a new behavior, reward him every time he does the desired behavior. Once your dog has learned the skill, switch to random reinforcement. Gradually reduce the number of times he receives a treat for doing the skill. Reward your dog’s best efforts.
At first, reward him with the treat four out of every five times when he does the behavior. As he perfects the skill, reward him three out of five times, then two out of five times, and so on. Use a random reinforcement schedule. Your dog will soon learn that if he keeps responding, eventually he’ll get what he wants.
By understanding the use of reinforcement, you’ll see that you are not forever bound to carry a pocketful of treats. Your dog will soon be working for you because he wants to please you and knows that, occasionally, he’ll get a treat or a game of tug too.
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