When training your dog, you want to use positive training techniques that reinforce good behavior. There are a few techniques, however, that it is best to avoid when training your dog.
- Being too permissive.
For example, the proper way to train a dog who likes to jump up on people is to restrain the dog on a leash so the animal cannot jump up, then ask the person not to pet the animal until it is quietly sitting.
Being too permissive is allowing the dog to jump up on a stranger and then allowing the person to pet the dog after he has jumped on the person. This reinforces the jumping behavior. The dog learns that good things happen when he jumps up and so will continue to do it.
- Depending too much on luring.
Luring is using some kind of treat to get the dog to do a particular behavior. If you want the animal to sit, for example, you hold the treat in front of him and then slowly lower it. As the dog goes down, you reinforce the behavior with a marker, such as saying “Good boy!” Then feed him the treat.
Luring as a training technique is good. It becomes problematic, however, when you begin to use it all the time. You need to gradually wean the animal away from the lure, but if you do not, he may become dependent on it for the behavior.
- Depending too much on treats.
Even if you gradually remove the lure, you can still be too dependent on treats to get the animal to do a certain behavior. You give the animal a treat, for example, every time he does the desired behavior.
- Bad timing.
In order for positive reinforcement to work, the reward has to be given as close to the desired behavior as possible, so the animal associates the behavior with the reward. Bad timing simply means that you are not delivering the reward close enough in time to the behavior. For some reason, there is a time lag, so the dog does not associate the reward with the behavior.
For example, you want the animal to sit when someone enters your home. The reward is a click from a device that you have. So, a friend comes in, and the animal dutifully sits. But you cannot find the clicker and start fumbling for it. In the meantime, the dog figures he will not receive any reinforcement and begins jumping on your friend. Then, you find the clicker and click – at precisely the wrong time.
Whether your dog is well trained or has a ways to go, we’d love to have him here at Barney’s Ranch for a day or a few days (just so long as he’s not over the top with the bad behavior). Contact us at (469) 273-1661 for more information.