Updated: Nov 6, 2020
Training your pet to be obedient is an important part of any dog’s life. It provides much needed mental stimulation which helps to have your dog feeling happy and balanced. If combined with exercise, your dog will be physically tired and will likely sleep when you're not around.
Reward-based training methods have been shown to be successful when training your dog.
What is rewards based training?
This is where you set up your dog to succeed and then rewarded then for performing the ‘good’ behaviour (positive reinforcement).
Your doggo loves to be rewarded for doing a good thing. This training method positively enhances the relationship between you and your dog.
Reward-based training also involves ignoring any ‘unwanted’ behaviours. In this way, the dog is not rewarded for any unwanted behaviour. If dogs are not rewarded for a certain behaviour, then they tend to stop doing it. For example if a dog is jumping up to greet people they should be ignored if they jump up and only receive attention (including eye contact) when they have four paws on the ground. Only when they are standing or sitting should they be rewarded with attention and treats.
Sometimes if owners react to ‘unwanted’ behaviour by yelling or getting angry they may inadvertently reinforce the behaviour – dogs perceive this as attention and the ‘unwanted’ behaviour is simply reinforced. For some dogs, any form of attention/reaction from the owner is better than no reaction at all. For example, if an owner shouts at a dog who is barking excessively, the dog may interpret this as getting attention and thus the barking continues whereas it is more effective to try to ignore this behaviour.
Aversion therapy or physical punishment must not be used in training programs. Punishing a dog for ‘unwanted’ behaviour can actually exacerbate the problem.
We highly recommend booking your puppy into puppy school classes, which are an important way of socialising your puppy with other dogs. Your puppy can then use this practice and learning when they meet other dogs at the park or on walks as they grow into adult dogs. Puppies have a ‘critical socialisation period’ from about 3-17 weeks of age. This is the time when they need to socialise with other dogs in order to learn social cues and how to communicate well with other dogs.
For dogs that are no longer in the puppy stage, training classes are offered in most areas. For more information please see AVA Reward-based Training.