Train Your Dog
By: Brigitte Smith
Reward training is commonly thought of as a modern method of training a
dog, but reward training is actually much older than you probably
think, when compared to other methods of dog training.
Many principles of modern reward training date back many decades.
It is possible that reward training for dogs has been around as long as
there have been dogs to train. Early humans probably used some informal
kind of reward training when taming the wolf pups that eventually
evolved into modern dogs.
However, what is called reward training today has only enjoyed is
remarkable popularity for the past 10 or 15 years.
Many reward training enthusiasts are less enthusiastic about other
methods of dog training, such as the traditional leash and collar
method. However, the best approach to training any individual dog is
often a combination of leash/collar training and reward training.
In addition, a training method that works perfectly for one dog may be
totally inappropriate for another, and vice versa. Some dogs respond
wonderfully to reward training and not at all to leash and collar
training, while others respond to leash/collar training and are not at
all motivated by reward training. Most dogs fall somewhere in the
middle of these two extremes.
Clicker training is one of the most popular forms of reward training
today. While clicker training is not the answer for every dog, it can
be a remarkably effective method of training many dogs. In clicker
training, the dog is taught to associate a clicking sound with a
reward, like a treat. The trainer clicks the clicker when the dog does
something good, followed immediately by a treat. Eventually, the dog
learns to respond to the clicker alone.
Most reward training uses some sort of food reward, or a reward that is
associated with getting food. In most cases, complex behaviors can only
be taught using this kind of positive reinforcement, and you will find
that the people who train dogs for movies and television use reward
training almost exclusively.
Reward training is used in all forms of dog training, including police
work and military applications. Most scent detection, tracking and
police dogs are trained using some form of reward training. Reward
training is also a very effective way to teach many basic obedience
Reward training often incorporates the use of a lure in order to get
the dog into the position desired by the trainer. The lure is used to
get the dog to perform the desired behavior on his or her own and of
his or her own free will.
It makes a great deal of sense to get the dog to perform the desired
behavior without any physical intervention on the part of the handler.
Getting the dog to perform a behavior without being touched is
After the dog has performed the desired behavior, it is given a reward,
also called a positive reinforcement. Treats are often used as
reinforcers, but praise, such as “good dog” or a
pat on the head, can also be effective rewards.
Ensuring that a dog that has been reward trained is a reliable dog is
important, especially when the dog has an important job, like police
work or drug detection, to do. For that reason it is important to get
the dog accustomed to working around distractions, and to properly
socialize the animal to both people and other animals. Certainly it is
possible to reward train dogs with important jobs to do, although often
the leash and collar method is the preferred option for such dogs.
Many dog trainers make the mistake of only training the dog inside the
house or back yard, and only when the handler is there. In order to
become a reliably trained companion, the dog must be taken outside the
confines of its safety zone and introduced to novel situations.
It is also important to teach the dog to pay attention to you at all
times. Having the attention of the dog means having control of the dog.
Reward training is very effective at getting the respect and the
attention of your dog.
About the author: Brigitte Smith runs two websites dedicated to dog
training, dog care and dog health: Grab your free special report "How
to Improve Your Dog's Health Within 30 Days - Maybe Even Lengthen Your
Dog's Life!" here: http://www.HealthyHappyDogs.com or