Pet Info

Reward Training

Training can be fun using a reward technique!

Have you ever watched dolphins and seals perform at the zoo or oceanarium? If you have you can see that they do their tricks and obey their trainer's commands with obvious enthusiasm and enjoyment.These tricks have been taught with motivational training methods without using any force or compulsion, simply using treats to reward the desired behaviour.

You can train your dog the same way using motivational training methods and Vet's Best Rewards or other suitable treats e.g. small pieces of dry toast or cheese.

Benefits

Hey - it works! These methods are based on modern, humane, scientifically proven methods of training which are used all over the world to train a great variety of animals including the human animal.

How dogs learn

Dogs learn just like us, trial and error, success and failures. They learn best by positive reinforcement or motivational training methods. They go on learning whether we are consciously teaching them or not. Every interaction, every encounter you have with your dog he is learning, make sure he is learning what you want him to learn.
 

Tricks!

Dogs love to do tricks. Let's turn our training exercises into tricks.

Getting your dog's attention

Getting your dog's to immediately look at you in all sorts of circumstances is your first and possibly your most important step. You must first get your dog's attention before you teach him anything and before you can give him a further command (come, sit, down, stay) that may one day save his life. Let's make paying attention worthwhile for him.

Begin in your own home. First thing in the morning fill your pockets with some Vet's Best Rewards. Randomly during the day (preferably when your dog is close at hand and not distracted by something else) call your dog's name in an excited voice.

When he looks at you, smile and say "good" to mark the behaviour you want and reward with a treat immediately. It is important that the reward/treat is delivered quickly (within 1 second).

Progression

Continue to do this until he is consistently looking at you when you call his name. Now you can reward him when he looks at you in the backyard, in the front yard, in the car, while out for a walk, in the park. We do it in this order to slowly increase the distractions to make it easy for him.

Sit

Sit is easy to teach and very versatile. You will find it invaluable in many situations and it is the foundation for more advanced tricks.

Wait until your dog is slightly hungry just before his dinner). Hold some Vet's Best Rewards in your hand and get your dog's attention focused on them. Hold your hand (with the treat as a lure) at your dog's nose level, get your dog's nose glued to the treat and slowly move it up over his nose and back between the ears and lure him to a sit.

As you move your hand back his hindquarters should sink to the ground. Presto - sit happens! As he sits, smile and say "Good" quickly in an excited voice and reward with a treat immediately.

If you are having trouble, don't worry; just keep trying until he gets the idea. If he keeps backing up, try doing it against a wall.

Progression

Continue to do this until he is sitting consistently. When this happens introduce the command word "sit". You can then progress to asking him to "sit" in the backyard, in the front yard, in the car, while out for a walk, in the park.

Try asking him to sit before you go through doors, before he gets in the car, before he goes for a walk and before you give him his dinner. When he can do this you will have a whole new dimension of control and he will love doing his trick because of all the rewards.

Always remember to smile, praise enthusiastically and reward immediately.

Come when called

Come when called is a most important trick for all dog owners. Start off as in trick number 1. Call your dog's name "Rover", show him the treat, smile bend forward slightly and hold your arms out to welcome your dog, call "Come" and run back a few steps.

He will almost certainly come running towards you, smile, praise enthusiastically and reward with a treat immediately. Continue to call your dog in the above manner from the other side of the room and then from other parts of the house.

Progression

Continue to do this until he is coming consistently, enthusiastically and quickly from all parts of the house. Now you can gradually begin calling him and rewarding him for coming quickly in the backyard, in the front yard while out for a walk and in the park.

Remember to keep the progression in the above order, increase distractions slowly and make it easy for him. This trick can take some time to get consistent performance in different environments. For your dog's safety whilst training, keep him on a lead at all times.

Remember to make yourself more interesting and exciting than other distractions and praise and treat enthusiastically when he comes to you.

As you progress to training in a park, switch to a long light lead or retractable lead to give him more freedom but to make sure he doesn't run away. Only progress to the next step when you are getting consistent behaviour at your present level.

When he does reliably come to you when off the lead, call him to you, clip on the lead, praise and treat then release him again. This will ensure that he doesn't associate coming to you with the loss of his freedom and being taken home.

Do not under any circumstances punish or growl at your dog when he comes to you.