The idea of using treats to train is often equated with bribery. Truthfully, dogs do what works. If using treats gets them to do what you want, then why not? You can also use the world around you as a reinforcement. Every interaction you have with your dog is a learning opportunity, so when you think about it, you probably don’t use food very often except during active training sessions. So why does your dog continue to hang out? Because you reinforce him with praise, touch, games and walks. Just remember, the behavior should produce the treat; the treat should not produce the behavior.
One should realize that a “certificate” from a particular training school is simply that: A certificate for completing one of the numerous training courses available. Many individual businesses will also be happy to charge you a fee and “certify” you. If you choose to attend a “dog training school,” do your homework. Investigate the program and how it fits with your needs. If you’re interested in a true national certification, please contact the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers.
A dog learns from interactions it has with its environment. This can be through classical conditioning, where it forms an association between two stimuli; non-associative learning, where its behavior is modified through habituation or sensitisation; and operant conditioning, where it forms an association between an antecedent and its consequence.
Even if your dog is older, curiosity can get the better of him. Make sure your home is a safe place for him by putting yourself in his paws. Crawl around on the floor and check out any potential dangers. Electrical cords, poisonous houseplants, and any item small enough to swallow are just a few of the things that should be out of his reach. Veterinarians perform more surgeries to remove strange objects that a dog has swallowed than for anything else.
The University of North Texas in Denton’s Department of Behavior Analysis is offering graduate and undergraduate courses on behavior modification through positive reinforcement shaping. Students do their hands-on research at zoos and animal shelters and at home. Training a pet is a course requirement for graduates and undergraduates alike. To learn more about this and other university programs that involve modern animal training, visit the Department of Behavior Analysis at the University of North Texas.
If you’re interested in training your dog to come to you when he’s called, one way to teach him is to play the Recall Game. This training game is played with two people, one hungry dog, one 6-foot leash, and plenty of small treats. Practice the Recall Game on and off leash inside, on leash outside, off leash outside in a confined area, and then ultimately on and off leash with distractions when your dog is ready. Be sure you can touch your dog’s collar every time he comes to you, and before you give him a treat.
When you follow these basic tips for training your dog, you should see results fairly quickly. Keep in mind that every dog learns at their own pace, so don’t get discouraged if it seems to be taking awhile. If you are really worried about the pace your dog is learning at, go back through and check that you are following all 5 super tips. We are confident, that with time and patience, your dog will eventually figure out what kind of behavior you expect and successfully learn to follow your commands.