Monday, January 31, 2011

Why use rewards vs. punishment with your puppy?

Reward based training rocks! Using rewards instead of punishments to train your dog is not only a scientifically based, proven way to teach commands and modify behavior, it also helps condition your dog to love learning. Through classical conditioning, we associate good things with training and good things with being with you. I love to learn new things with Jenn, earning praise, treats, and attention in exchange for my good behavior. I look forward to our time together and I can't imagine wanting to learn anything if I was constantly corrected or punished. What fun would that be? It would be completely stressful. No thanks! Jenn also likes to teach reward based methods to children.
Kids can learn some terrific life skills using reward based training with their dogs including being gentle and kind, taking the time and patience to understand the dog's emotions, and using treats and praise instead of force and fear.
Author Stanley Coren recently wrote in Psychology Today, explaining:

"Classical conditioning of emotions provides one reason why reward-based training procedures should work better and establish a stronger bond between the dog and his trainer, than punishment based systems. Every time you give the dog a treat, or some other reward, you set up the event sequence "sight of you-treat-pleasant feeling." Even if your timing is off and you are not a very good and knowledgeable trainer, there is no harm being done in this case. Every instance of reward makes it more likely that the dog will feel better about you because you are actually conditioning the emotional response "sight of you-pleasant feeling."

You can read author Stanley Coren's whole article from Psychology Today:

"Reward Training versus Discipline Based Dog Training: Which Works Better" From Psychology Today By Stanley Coren

Friday, January 21, 2011

My Training Goals for 2011

Jenn says that we really need to put together some formal training plans for me, Bernie and Jet for the new year. Let's start with me (of course)!

Jenn's big goal for me in 2011 is to develop an individual Freestyle routine for us.

What is Freestyle? Canine Freestyle is a choreographed performance organized with music, illustrating the training and joyful relationship of a dog and handler team. It includes heeling, elements of formal obedience, tricks, and creative freedom between dog and handler. We've been doing group freestyle for several years with the Paws4Ever Drill Team for demos and parades. But individual Freestyle is even more challenging. Some dog/handler teams go on to compete in Freestyle trials and/or perform demonstrations in public.

We've started by taking a beginner Freestyle class out at Paws4Ever with instructor Julie Jenkins. This will give us some basics and Julie is a fun instructor. We'll be choosing a song that shows off my movement, choreographing some basic moves, and practicing, practicing, practicing.

Jenn also joined the Canine Freestyle Federation (CFF), which provides support to those interested in the sport of Freestyle.

Who-ha, sounds like I'm going to have a busy year.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Resolve to Train Your Dog in 2011!

Wow, it is 2011! And what a perfect time to make a resolution to spend more time with your canine companion with reward based training. To get us all on the right track, the Association of Pet Dog Trainers have proclaimed January "National Train Your Dog Month".There are tons of resources on their website dedicated to kicking off your year with reward based training. There are training tips, how to have fun and bond with your dog while learning real life skills and you can enter contests. Here's the deal:

"You can enter a photo and/or video that best illustrates how training can improve a dog’s life (and his or her owner’s life!) in the community at large. The photos or videos should demonstrate a dog or dogs and owner(s) using training in “real life” situations in the world at large." To enter, check out this page.

Jenn is no exception in her resolution to promote, support and practice reward based training. She has resolved to train me, Bernie and Jet on specific training goals. She's got lots of plans for each one of us in the new year. To track our progress, Jenn is going to use her holiday gift, a Flip video camera to show y'all what we are working on on my blog. Looks like 2011 is going to be a great year!