Canine Health

Growing the Bond Between Dog and Handler Through Positive Training

There is few greater joys than welcoming a new puppy into your home. They are a new member of the family but once you get them home, many new owners wonder what to do. How do you train your new puppy to go potty outside? How do you instill some manners into the new addition? Positive reinforcement training is the standard in the dog training world. This means that for every correct action the puppy performs, they receive some form of treat. For example, the puppy comes when called, they will receive a reward in the form of food or play with a unique toy.

When practicing positive reinforcement training techniques, pet supplies such as small training treats, dog clicker, and a standard 4-6 foot leash are beneficial to use. Start simple with the puppy. Train in short, fun sessions practicing just one or two commands. Watch me, sit, and come are excellent commands to begin with. To train sit, gain eye contact with the dog. Firmly say sit and move your hand with a treat slowly backward over their head. If they do this, use the clicker or say yes. Then immediately reward the dog with a treat. If the dog does not, repeat the command. If they still do not sit, try tucking their rump under them with a scooping motion and state the command at the same time. Reward them for this so they learn to associate the word sit with the action. The more the dog is positively rewarded the quicker they will execute the command.

The same process applies to training any command. Rarely is there a need to use the word no for an incorrect action. Move past any incorrect actions and only reward the action that has been asked for. After a dog has learned basic commands you can start using shaping training where you ask for a command and allow them to experiment actions until they do the correct one for the reward. In this case, ask for a sit and then ask for a down. Use your eyes to look down at the floor in front of the dog and a hand motion indicating down. Hold that and wait. If the dog lays down, treat them. If they do not repeat the process until they experiment and find the correct action. Positive reinforcement training and shaping help to grow the bond between dog and owner as well as provide the dog with invaluable training.