Reward based trainingby Jade Giuggio on 04/28/13
There are a few myths associated with positive “reward based” training. Too often I see dogs that will only do what their owners ask once a treat is presented or a dog that will only come when they hear the treat bag. This is NOT what positive training is about. When we first teach a behavior we may have to lure a dog into understanding what we are looking for. Luring typically means using a treat in hand and enticing the dog into the position desired. The goal is to take the lure out of the equation as soon as possible so food is the reward, not the enticement. For instance, when asking a dog to sit they should sit whether or not you have treat knowing that he will then be rewarded. The reward can be something as simple as a “good boy” or a quick pet. What shouldn’t happen is you asking for a sit and the dog does not comply until you pull out a treat. Positive training does not mean the reward is always treats or food. Rewards should vary and some examples are: petting, praising, mealtime, walks, toys, play time, sniffing, etc.
I find that one of the best ways to reinforce good behavior is by incorporating it into your dog’s daily schedule. You can do this by having your dog sit and wait before feeding them, before putting on the leash to go out the door or before getting a new toy. It is important not to only pay attention to the bad behaviors, but to reinforce the ones we like. Even negative attention is attention and for a dog that craves interaction. They will surely take negative attention (ex: pushing a dog down from jumping) over no attention at all.