Approaching and changing your dog’s behaviour using positive reinforcement training takes understanding, patience, consistency and repetition. Victoria Stilwell of Positively Dog Training recommends the following steps to mastering the positive training technique.
INVESTIGATE. Identify why your dog is doing what she is doing. You cannot effectively deal with a behavior unless you know the root cause.
UNDERSTAND. Once you know why, then you can ask yourself how to treat the behavior. To do this, it is vitally important you understand your dog.
LEARN. Figure out how to communicate clearly. Effective two-way communication increases the bond between you.
MOTIVATE. Find what motivates your dog and use this while teaching. Rewards in the form of food, toys, praise, or play are powerful, but every dog is different, so find out what motivates your dog the most.
BE KIND. Never hit, scream at, or yank your dog. Do not combat fear with more fear—recognize your dog’s concerns, then slowly and gently help her overcome them.
SLOW DOWN. Go very slowly when dealing with anxiety-related behaviors.
BE CONSISTENT. Everyone in your dog's life must be on the same page and provide consistency in training, expectations and reactions. If one person lets your dog on the couch and someone else does not, she will get confused.
BE PATIENT. Just like with humans, the more significant the behavior issue, the longer it can take to develop a solution. Stay the course and always remember that the power of positive training is the right choice in all situations, no matter what the issue.
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