What is Positive Reinforcement Training?
True POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT methodology does not use any form of fear, force or intimidation. Instead it teaches the puppy what we want and keeps the focus on repeating that wanted behavior. Positive Reinforcement methodology does not use punishment, but may use consequence as appropriate to the puppy's personality and the circumstance. Consequence does not involve any form of physical correction. We will be teaching you more about forms of consequence and how to use them, so be sure to read your daily email from us.
Mixing training methodologies by first frightening or forcing your puppy to behave in a certain way, then following it with a reward, results in a confused puppy. Mixing methodologies is a form of passive/aggressive training. Instead, we're going to teach you how to use positive reinforcement techniques with your puppy that are safe and effective! Commit yourself to following our teaching rather than using something you saw on TV, or a well-meaning friend told you to try. If you follow our curriculum you will be using a consistent methodology, and if you have any questions please do contact us!
What's Natural to Your Puppy Doesn't Work in Your Home
Puppies are born not knowing what we perceive to be good manners. Sounds like a concept we should easily understand, but generally we don't because we incorrectly label dog behaviors to be the same as our human emotions. It's called, "Anthropomorphism." Because of our misinterpretation we incorrectly think our puppies do things "to us" and they do it "out of spite." Not at all true! Your puppy doesn't purposely misbehave and act out "just to spite you." Spite is neither an emotion nor an intention your puppy understands. Your puppy didn't chew on your blanket because you didn't allow her to sleep on your bed—she chewed it because it was interesting to chew or a stress reliever. She didn't poop in the house because you left her alone and went out for dinner. She pooped because she became fearful she was left alone.
Our puppies don't analyze or judge their behaviors as right or wrong. To your puppy, her behaviors are just behaviors that are natural and instinctual to her. It is only us who label a behavior as right or wrong, good or bad. From now on you need to view your puppy's behavior as either wanted or unwanted, with no emotional judgment attached. If the behavior is wanted, then encourage it. If it is unwanted, don't criticize it. Instead teach your puppy what you want—without letting your emotional reaction have any influence in your interaction with your pup.
- Are Opportunists
- Play the Odds
- Have Problem Solving Skills
YOUR job is to set up you and your puppy for success—always. All puppies will repeat behaviors if you or the environment rewards them. Puppies, instinctively, are opportunists, they play the odds and they have problem solving skills. Set your puppy up to achieve success so that she learns the behaviors you desire plus how to repeat these new behaviors. If you leave your shoe in the hallway and your puppy goes scooting by, she is likely to stop and give it a smell and a lick/chew to find out if it is rewarding. Don't leave your shoe in the hallway … or your pen on the table … or your cell phone on the counter until the rules are clearly learned by the puppy, in language your puppy can understand, which means you first have to learn how to communicate with her. It's up to you to establish methods and communication that allow for both your puppy and for yourself to succeed.
Always strive to build a mutually respectful relationship with your puppy. Remember that you are teaching cues, not commands. Training is not boot camp, no matter how cute we think it is to call it that. Show your puppy what you want in a manner she can understand—and show her what's in it for her, other than the opportunity to live with you.
Positive Reinforcement training doesn't use the following. We'll be explaining why in upcoming newsletter lessons. For now, though, just know there is no use of:
- Alpha rolls
- Scruff shakes
- Spraying water
- Strangle holds
- Rolled up newspapers
- Bags of chains to throw
- Shock, prong or choke collars
- Growling or other strange noises you make at your dog