Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Learn these fundamental positive dog training methods for a healthier, happier and well behaved dog

Dog training has gone through a positive change over the past few years with people avoiding primitive and traditional training methods. Now more and more dog owners and trainers are turning to positive dog training methods like clicker training based on positive reinforcement; because they have realized that it is absolutely safe and at the same time highly effective and quicker than the traditional training methods - that were mostly based on unhealthy aversive techniques. Aversive training techniques only help you in suppressing unwanted behaviors in your dog resulting in other dangerous behavioral and health problems; where as positive reinforcement training methods completely remove them - for good.

To help you reap the miraculous benefits of positive dog training you must know these 6 fundamental concepts of behavioral psychology. Positive dog training is purely based on science and that’s why it is effective, safe and quicker – both for the dogs and trainers. Though Positive training methods like clicker training were in use already to train other animals, marine mammals and birds, its application in dog training is fairly recent. Clicker training in dogs was first introduced by Karen Pryor in the early 90s through a series of seminars.

Positive Reinforcement Training – In positive reinforcement training method you reward a behavior offered by the dog and ignores it’s unwanted behaviors. One of the most popular positive reinforcement methods is Clicker Training.

Clicker TrainingClicker training makes use of only positive reinforcement method. In this training method the trainer makes use of a small device named clicker that produces a unique and loud short sound or a ‘click’ to mark a behavior displayed by the dog and then reinforcing it by offering a treat or reward. Unlike other marking sounds produced by us like – good dog or good boy- the tone and sound of the clicker remains the same always to the dog, which makes this training more quick and effective.

Classical Conditioning – This training method was first discovered by a Russian physiologist named Ivan Pavlov. In classical conditioning, a neutral stimulus is paired with a natural stimulus which originally evokes the response. Then after many repetitions, the neutral stimulus itself evokes the response.

In clicker training, there is an initial phase called “charging the clicker” where in the trainer clicks the clicker and treats the dog randomly without asking for any behavior from the dog. In this process the dog associates the sound of clicker to something positive – treats. Then the sound of the clicker alone is enough to get him excited and switch him into a ‘learning mode’. Here the neutral stimulus is Clicker, natural stimulus is food and response is getting your dog into the right mood.

Operant Conditioning – This training method was first introduced by an American Psychologist named B.F. Skinner in the early 50s. In operant conditioning, the dog offers a behavior intentionally to earn a reward. In positive reinforcement training like clicker training you reinforce a behavior in your dog by first marking it with a clicker and then reinforcing it with a treat or reward. Eventually the behavior gets reinforced and the dog repeats the behavior – intentionally -to earn the reward. Clicker training initially starts as classical conditioning and then soon takes the form of operant conditioning.

Desensitization – This is a behavior modification technique used by positive reinforcement dog trainers to reduce the sensitivity of the dog to a particular trigger or stimulus. For example, if a dog has a behavioral problem of snarling or lunging at other dogs, the trainer exposes the dog to the triggering object (i.e. other dogs) one step at a time and brings it closer to it gradually, taking utmost care that the unwanted behavior (snarling or lunging) is not triggered or keeping it below the threshold. Multiple sessions of this technique are carried out over a period of time until the dog is fully desensitized to the particular trigger and eventually the unwanted behavior just fades away.

Counter Conditioning – Counter Conditioning is also a behavior modification technique utilized by positive reinforcement trainers where is dog is conditioned to offer a behavior that is incompatible to the undesired behavior while the dog is exposed to a trigger. Taking the above example of desensitization:- the dog is gradually taught or conditioned to look at the trainer (counter behavior) while the dog is exposed to the triggering object (the dogs) – without triggering the undesired behavior – and then clicked and treated for it.

Learning these above positive training methods is very crucial if you plan to get started with Positive reinforcement training like clicker training. Unlike traditional training methods, Positive reinforcement training has been proved to make your dog – healthy, happy and well behaved through out its life time.

1 comment:

  1. Good Post with good links. Keep it up! Click.../treat