Positive reinforcement dog training, also referred to as force-free, reward-based, or clicker training, is a method that focuses on telling your dog when he is correct, instead of only pointing out what is incorrect.
This is done through a marker for correctness and timing, paired with a reward that is reinforcing to the dog. The marker can be a clicker, a simple device that when pressed makes a distinct, consistent sound, or a short word such as “yes,” “good,” or “smart.”
How To Give A Positive Reward-
The reward can be food of different values. For instance, a high-value treat might be premium, chewy, soft dog treats and a low-value treat might be kibble. Rewards can also be toys, praise, petting, or play, as long as the dog is motivated to work for it.
The correct behavior is “marked” as soon as it happens, and the reward follows the marker. The dog learns to associate the marker with the reward, producing positive outcomes in the dog’s behavior.
Here is a breakdown of what most dogs would define as their hierarchy of rewards:
· At home with few distractions use low-value: kibble, carrots, ice cubes, green beans, or dry biscuits.
· In your yard use medium-value: commercial training treats or meaty-type treats.
· At the park use high value-treats, like premium chewy, soft dog treats with great flavors/smells such as peanut butter, salmon, and chicken.
Remember, this hierarchy is not fixed, and every dog won’t necessarily put the same value on these treats. Offer different types of food rewards to find out what your dog likes best, and build your dog’s reward hierarchy from there.
When in an unfamiliar environment among distractions, or when learning something new, your dog’s job is harder. Just like you would expect to get paid more for doing a more difficult job, your dog should be paid more, too!
When you are teaching something new or practicing in a new environment, increase the value of your treats. Be sure you always use small pieces of any treat. Treats should be pea-size or smaller, so your dog doesn’t get too full or spend more time chewing than paying attention to you.
The more often you reward your dog when he does what you ask, the more likely he’ll do what you ask in the future.