When people find out you’re a dog trainer, it’s amazing how often the first question they ask revolves around dog training advice.
I’m always more than happy to oblige, because as I often say, “I don’t train dogs for a living. I train dogs to make living worthwhile!”
Dog training advice can take many forms, but what I thought I’d do here is just share two very basic fundamental principles that I stress in my own training. When you learn to internalize these two pieces of advice, you can’t help but have a better relationship with your dog.
One great piece of dog training advice is this…
Learn the difference between a “reward” and a “treat.” This was taught to me very early on when I was learning the art of dog training, and it has served me well over my 17 year career.
Here’s why making this distinction is important:
Rewards can help you teach your dog to avoid unwanted behavior, and to do more of a behavior you find desirable. A reward is “behavior contingent.” It’s not a piece of food that you give your dog because he looks cute or because it’s bedtime.
A treat, on the other hand, is something you give your dog that has no “strings” attached. When you make a distinction between a reward and a treat, your training sessions will start being much more productive.
What else should you be doing?
Catch your dog doing something right.
And what do you do when you catch him? Reward him. This, in fact, is my training philosophy summed up in one sentence.
The basic problem most dog owners have is that they’re very good at telling their dogs “No!” but not so good at praising them when they do something right.
Dogs, just like people, need to be taught not only what NOT to do, but also what you’d like them to do in order to please you.