Reward Based Training

 

Kind • fair • effective

 

With a Veterinary background, and trained to observe both physical and emotional states of the dog,  Ann can advise you on any possible problems and stress that could be causing your dog’s behaviour and stopping any new learning taking place.  Most owners do not realise the impact of teething pain in young dogs (up to a year old), which causes the need to chew on everything in sight and lack of concentration.  Don’t you feel the same, when you have tooth ache?  Except you can reach for the pain killers!  Advice to ‘smack your dog on the nose’ will only make it worse and make your dog aggressive towards your hands, understandably!  Understanding why your dog does things will give you an enlightened approach towards your dog and assist your training.

Dogs need guidance and leadership to live in our very difficult human world, where the dog is continually required to curb or extinguish many of his natural behaviours i.e. barking, digging, playing with other dogs, chasing, marking and guarding territory.  They need ‘motivation’ to do this and an owner that takes the time to learn their language and understand their age/breed/lifestyle requirements, without spoiling them.  Spoilt dogs without rules and boundaries become nightmare teenagers!

Remember dogs are a different species, not humans in furry coats!  They have their own vocal and body language.  They are also required to be on their best behaviour at all times and ‘like’ every  dog and human that approaches them, even though most of the time they cannot move away – as you would!  Then we are upset when they display normal successful canine language i.e. barking, growling, lunging.

"Understanding why your dog does things will give you an enlightened approach towards your dog and assist your training."

Dogs learn by association, as simple as that, very much like we do.  If they carry out a behaviour and the consequences work for them – that behaviour is reinforced and they will do it again.  This is why reward based training is so successful.  If the dog achieves what it wants -  a treat, toy or attention,  making something go away, stealing food off the table or teaching their owners to play the chase game by running off with the TV remote, they will do it again.  If the behaviour doesn’t work for them, there is no point in repeating it - dogs are opportunists after all!

Before long the behaviour has become a habit, often reinforced by their owners, without them realising it.  Which is why we advise ignoring any behaviours that you do not wish repeated and teaching a new alternative behaviour that is more rewarding and not compatible with the current behaviour. For example - only greeting a dog when it is sitting, not when it is jumping all over you (which has usually already been taught by the family, when it was a puppy). Putting time into training your dog what is acceptable for you and what isn’t and looking at your dog’s lifestyle, nutrition and emotional state, along with early socialisation to people, dogs and their environment, will help you to live a better, more harmonious life together.

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Happy, healthy dogs!

Modern understanding recognises the importance of maintaining a happy, enjoyable relationship based on mutual respect, trust, and fun!  How else would our loyal guide dogs, assistance dogs, search dogs, army and police dogs (to name a few) do what they do so well?!

Sadly there are many types of ‘quick fix’ products available to dog owners who wish to modify their dog’s behaviour, including electric shock collars. These deliver pain or discomfort to stop an unwanted behaviour. While this pain can initially suppress behaviour their use comes with some dangerous risks: often the reason for the underlying problem is not dealt with; poorly timed, intense electric shocks induce fear and ongoing anxiety – most aggression problems are caused by fear already, so this makes it worse; dogs learn by association so there is a risk the shock could be associated with something other than it’s behaviour i.e. a child, small dog or it doesn’t link it with anything at all, adding to confusion and a very nervous dog. These devices are now banned in Wales and many European countries, with hefty fines imposed if they are used. Lets train them, not shock them!

"A holistic approach will mean a more harmonious life for you and your dog..."

 

There are many out dated theories still around on why dog’s do what they do and how we should respond. Some of them still promote the dog as a dangerous ‘dominant’ figure that is just waiting to take over the household, given half the chance, unless ‘we assert our strength and aggression over them and keep them in their place’.

Fortunately for most of our dogs today, modern understanding recognises the importance of maintaining a happy enjoyable relationship, based on mutual respect, trust and fun, how else would our loyal guide dogs, assistance dogs, search dogs, army and police dogs (to name just a few) and our pet dogs, do what they do so well and enrich our lives so much.