Understanding Dog Training

Understanding training

 

Dog trainers are updating their training methods to a new age of training called positive reinforcement methods, these methods are enjoyable to both dogs and the human beings implementing them.

Before you can properly train your dog, you need to understand what some of the training terms mean.

Consequence: The action or event that happens after a behaviour is performed.

Primary reinforcer: A reinforce important to a dog for example food, water and shelter.

Secondary reinforcer: Things that are linked to the primary reinforcer for example the food bowl and water bowl.

Marker word: This is used instead of a clicker when my dog does something well, I would say good boy or good girl.

These terms are the most used in training there are more, but I want to keep this simple and more about positive reinforcement.

Dogs learn from association and consequences, if something good happens the behaviour most likely will increase in the future, this is called positive reinforcement. This meaning that if you make the association pleasant for your dog he/she will continue to perform the behaviour. A good example will be a sit if I ask my dog to sit and he does I reward him with a treat I do however have a marker word that I would say before I give him a treat.

Now that you understand a bit more we can start to look at the motivation for a dog. Mostly a food-driven dog is easily rewarded with treats whereas an active playful dog is more likely rewarded with a tough of war game.

There are different type of reinforcement schedules you can follow:

Continuous reinforcement schedule: this is where a dog gets a treat every time he does when asked for something. I highly recommend this for teaching a dog new thing.

Fixed Ratio of reinforcement: This is where there is a fixed ration for example if my dog sits he only gets a treat every 3d time he sits. The downside is that most dogs begin to anticipate when they will be getting the treat and will start to listen to the command on the 3d attempt. I always recommend to not use a pattern dogs can easily figure it out.

Variable ratio schedule of reinforcement: This is like a slot machine if you reward only on certain times with no fixed patterns your dog has a hard time to anticipate when the treat is coming this helps to keep them interested.

The best way to make sure your dog can listen and do a command without treats is to let it fade away slowly. Use these reinforcement schedules and find out what schedule works best with you and your dog.