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

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