Published at Thursday, 23 May 2019. Dog Training. By Angeletta Roux.
In my experience, most snags in the dog training process result from miscommunication, not willfulness, stubbornness, or dominance. While this article is geared toward training the family dog, the fact is that whether your dog is strictly a family pet, a competitor in canine sports, or a full-time working dog, getting the most out of your training time means learning to communicate effectively with your dog.
In some ways, reward training is the opposite of aversive dog training, where dogs are trained to associate undesirable behaviors with negative reinforcement such as scolding, corrections or outright punishment. The negative reinforcement stops when the dog performs the desired behavior. In theory, this process discourages dogs from repeating unwanted actions and trains them to do what owners want, but in the long run it's an unpleasant process and not nearly as effective as reward training. Instead of punishing your dog for what he does wrong, reward training lets you show your dog what you want him to do and then reward him when he does it.
Promote cooperation. When you give your dog a verbal cue, your voice, like your body language, should be relaxed and even. Speak in a normal tone. As you give your cue, picture your dog performing the exercise nicely — this confidence will come through in your voice. Avoid tones that are whiny, questioning, or pleading. Trying to train your dog in these ”lost puppy” tones will be an exercise in frustration. They will not gain you acknowledgment, much less respect! Remember, you are a teacher, a coach, a mentor – not a servant. At the other extreme, you don't need to assume a loud, tough-sounding ”command voice”. This is for two reasons. First, aggressive, intimidating tones tend to introduce resistance in more confident dogs, and unthinking subservience in less confident ones. Neither is conducive to learning, cooperation, or teamwork. Second, your dog is perfectly capable of listening and responding when you speak in a normal, pleasant, everyday tone of voice. Assuming you plan to utilize what you've taught your dog in your everyday life, you will be instructing your dogs here and there all day long. So, why in the world teach your dog that you have to play ”drill sergeant” in order to have him do as you ask? It introduces unnecessary stress into training, is not particularly productive, and certainly doesn't reflect a relationship of willing partnership. The fact is, your dog is much more likely to respond calmly, willingly, and thoughtfully if your voice and demeanor are relaxed and conversational. The bottom line: to promote cooperation, teach your dog his cues in a voice that is reasonable, comfortable, and normal for you.
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