Want a Well-Behaved Dog? Do More of This and Less of That
- Recent studies on canine behavior are proving that positive reinforcement training is much more effective (not to mention humane) than training involving punishment.
- A couple of studies even point to the probability that training methods that involve punishment can actually create problem behaviors in dogs.
- Positive reinforcement training is based on the simple notion that rewarding your dog for desired behavior will encourage more of that behavior.
By Dr. Becker
A growing collection of recent studies is proving that positive reinforcement training of dogs is much more effective and ultimately successful than training involving dominance and punishment.
Some of the studies even demonstrated that training involving punishment actually created additional problem behaviors – certainly an outcome no dog guardian deliberately sets out to achieve.
Behavior Training That Hurts Rather Than Helps
A study titled “The importance of consistency in the training of dogs”1was conducted at the University of Southampton in the UK and the University of Life Sciences in Norway. It was published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research in May 2007.
The purpose of the study was to determine whether punishment was a risk factor for problem behaviors, and the combined effect on obedience and specific problem behaviors of reward, punishment, attitudes and rule structure. Rule structure is defined as permissiveness vs. strictness, and consistency in applying rules.
The study showed that punishment correlates negatively with obedience and positively with training problems. Rule structure, including consistency of the owners, was associated with higher levels of obedience and less training problems.
In another study conducted at the University of Bristol in the UK and published in the September-October 2008 Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research2, results suggest dogs trained only with positive reinforcement exhibited fewer problem behaviors. And dogs whose owners used punishment in training were much more likely to show a fear response to other dogs.
Additional Positive Reinforcement Training Studies
- A study titled “Behaviour of smaller and larger dogs: Effects of training methods, inconsistency of owner behaviour and level of engagement in activities with the dog”3 and published in March 2010 showed that increased anxiety and fear was related to a more frequent use of punishment in smaller dogs.
The researchers concluded smaller dog owners can significantly improve obedience in their pets by being more consistent in interactions and engaging regularly in play and training activities with them. Behavioral problems could be reduced by avoiding habits of punishment that might reinforce fear or fear-related aggression.
- In a “Survey of the use and outcome of confrontational and non-confrontational training methods in client-owned dogs showing undesired behaviors”4 conducted at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and published in early 2009, confrontational methods applied by dog owners before their pets were presented for a behavior consultation were associated with aggressive responses.
The researchers concluded it is important that owners understand the risks associated with such training methods as “hit or kick dog for undesirable behavior” … “growl at dog” … “physically force the release of an item from a dog’s mouth” … “alpha roll” … “stare at or stare [dog] down” … “dominance down” … “grab dog by jowls and shake.” These confrontational methods elicited an aggressive response from at least a quarter of the dogs on which they were attempted.
- In a paper published in 2004 by researchers at the University of Bristol in the UK5, it was determined that in the general dog-owning population, dogs trained using punishment are no more obedient than those trained by other means, and, furthermore, they exhibit increased numbers of potentially problematic behaviors.
Because reward-based methods are associated with higher levels of obedience and fewer problematic behaviors, their use is a more effective and welfare-compatible alternative to punishment for the average dog owner.
Positive Reinforcement Dog Training in 5 Simple Steps
The goal is to use very small-sized treats (pea sized is good, and you can even use frozen peas if your dog seems to like them) and verbal praise and affection to encourage desired behaviors in your dog.
- Come up with short, preferably one-word commands for the behaviors you want to teach your pet. Examples are Come, Sit, Stay, Down, Heel, Off, etc. Make sure all members of your family consistently use exactly the same command for each behavior.
- As soon as your dog performs the desired behavior, reward him immediately with a treat and verbal praise. Do this every time he responds appropriately to a command. You want him to connect the behavior he performed with the treat. This of course means you’ll need to have treats on you whenever you give your dog commands in the beginning.
- Keep training sessions short and fun. You want your dog to associate good things with obeying your commands. You also want to use training time as an opportunity to deepen your bond with your pet.
- Gradually back off the treats and use them only intermittently once your dog has learned a new behavior. Eventually they’ll no longer be necessary, but you should always reward your dog with verbal praise whenever he obeys a command.
- Continue to use positive reinforcement to maintain the behaviors you desire. Reward-based training helps create a range of desirable behaviors in your pet, which builds mutual feelings of trust and confidence.
If you treat our dog/pets with love and consider them part of the family instead of a creature you have or want control over they will respond accordingly sensing your love, concern and loyalty to them… and you will also not mind their less than perfect behavior or obedience.Technorati Tags: reasonable pet training,positive pet training,positive reinforcement,pet behavior,animal behavior,rewards,love,loving pet training,loving dog training,positive reinforcement training,consistency in the training of dogs,dogs,pets,animals,responsible pet ownership,loving pet owners,JOMP,Just One More Pets,Dr. Becker
August 4, 2012 - Posted by justonemorepet | animal behavior, Animal or Pet Related Stories, Animal Related Education, animals, Dogs, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet and Animal Training, Pets, responsible pet ownership | animal behavior, consistency in the training of dogs, Dr. Becker, Love, loving dog training, loving pet training, pet behavior, positive pet training, positive reinforcement, positive reinforcement training, reasonable pet training, rewards
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Save a Life…Adopt Just One More…Pet!
Everyday we read or hear another story about pets and other animals being abandoned in record numbers while at the same time we regularly hear about crazy new rules and laws being passed limiting the amount of pets that people may have, even down to one or two… or worse yet, none.
Nobody is promoting hoarding pets or animals, but at a time when there are more pets and animals of all types being abandoned or being taken to shelters already bursting at the seams, there is nothing crazier than legislating away the ability of willing adoptive families to take in just one more pet!!
Our goal is to raise awareness and help find homes for all pets and animals that need one by helping to match them with loving families and positive situations. Our goal is also to help fight the trend of unfavorable legislation and rules in an attempt to stop unnecessary Euthenization!!
“All over the world, major universities are researching the therapeutic value of pets in our society and the number of hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and mental institutions which are employing full-time pet therapists and animals is increasing daily.” ~ Betty White, American Actress, Animal Activist, and Author of Pet Love
So if you have the room in your home and the love in your heart… Adopt Just One More Pet or consider becoming a Foster parent for pets… Also check out: Little Critter: Just One More Pet
Photos By: Marion Algier – The UCLA Shutterbug
There is always room for Just One More Pet. So if you have room in your home and room in your heart… Adopt Just One More! If you live in an area that promotes unreasonable limitations on pets… fight the good fight and help change the rules and legislation…
Save the Life of Just One More…Animal!
Recent and Seasonal Shots
As I have been fighting Cancer… A battle I am gratefully winning, my furkids have not left my side. They have been a large part of my recovery!! Ask Marion
Photos by the UCLA Shutterbug are protected by copyright, Please email at JustOneMorePet@gmail.com or find us on twitter @JustOneMorePet for permission to duplicate for commerical purposes or to purchase photos.
If you can adopt or foster just one more pet, you could be saving a life, while adding joy to your own! Our shelters are over-flowing… Please join the fight to make them all ‘NO-Kill’ facilities.
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If You Were Stranded On An Island…A recent national survey revealed just how much Americans love their companion animals. When respondents were asked whether they’d like to spend life stranded on a deserted island with either their spouse or their pet, over 60% said they would prefer their dog or cat for companionship!