Positive reinforcements: How to train dogs

Training plays a crucial role to ensure a happy and successful relationship between you and your pet. Any training method that you choose must be based on the principle of positive reinforcement: rewarding the right actions.
How Dogs Learn...
- Dogs learn by trying out different behaviour and associating the consequences that arise as a result of that behaviour.
-If an action/behaviour is followed by a good consequence, then it will be repeated; if followed by a negative
consequence, the behaviour will
be stopped.
- Let’s understand this more clearly by taking an example – a common behaviour most often observed at home is dogs, puppies begging for food at the table. If this behaviour is rewarded by offering food, then it will be considered as a positive consequence and repeated. However, followed by a negative consequence (in this case, no food given), the behaviour will eventually be stopped.

Thumb Rules of Training
- Make training sessions fun. Puppies love to play, so if the session is fun- filled, s/he is more likely to learn and remember.
- Keep sessions short – 3 sets of 10- minute sessions are better than one 30-minute session.
- Always end the training on a positive note and reward your dog.
- Stop the session if you feel angry
or frustrated, as this will impact
the puppy.
- Be clear in your commands and use pleasant facial expressions and body language.
- Be consistent in your training and praise.
- Reward good behaviour immediately with a mixture of treats
and praise.

It may take weeks of practice until your dog has mastered your commands. Remember, dogs are not used to human speech, so keep trying till the point gets through.

Necessary Commands

1. To sit:
Train your puppy for a sitting posture using treats. When the puppy is in standing posture, hold a treat in front of his nose, then slowly raise the treat upwards and above his head. The puppy should follow the treat with his nose and push his head back as he follows the treat. This will result in putting his bottom on the ground and he will be seated. The puppy should be immediately praised and treated as soon as he sits down. Repeat this activity several times. The pup will eventually learn to sit when he sees the treat over his head and the word ‘sit’ will be associated with a treat.
2. Wearing a collar:
A puppy should be introduced to a collar as soon as s/he comes home and taught to walk on a leash. Try a collar that fits your puppy appropriately. You should be able to pass 2 fingers through the collar. Adjust or replace the collar as the puppy grows.
3. Using a crate:
Puppies can be trained by using a crate, but ensure that the crate is comfortable and has enough space for it to move around, lie down with his legs stretched and sit comfortably. Try feeding the puppy inside the crate so that s/he associates the crate with a good experience. Never leave the puppy in the crate for a long period.
4. Toilet training:
The puppy needs to make several visits outside to relieve him/herself. Every time it goes to the toilet at the right spot, reward it with a lot of praise; never punish or scold your pup if it has ‘accidents’. Clean the pup without making much fuss. Avoid accidents by frequently taking your pet outside – after every meal, waking up from sleep, first thing in the morning, before going to bed, after play etc.

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Source: Psychology Today

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