By Ken Snowie
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
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
likely, though, that the best approach to training your dog
be a mixture of leash and collar training with reward
Additionally, a certain training style might work great for
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
clicker training. While clicker training does not work for
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
Getting the dog to carry out a behavior without being handled
is important. The point of the training, in fact, is to get
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,
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
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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