Using Positive Reinforcement And Rewards for Intuitive Dog Training

by Patty Peery in Training Posted on 08/04/2022 10:39 AM

Using positive reinforcement and rewards for intuitive dog training

Training dogs using positive reinforcement and reward training has long been recognized as both highly effective for the owner and a positive experience for the dog. Based on generations of dog behavioral training this method embraces so many aspects of intuitive dog training.

Proponents of positive reinforcement swear by the effectiveness of their techniques, and it is true that the vast majority of dogs respond well to these training methods.

One reason that positive reinforcement training is so effective is that it uses…

Rewards to teach the dog what is expected of it. When the dog performs the desired behavior, they are provided with a reward, most often in the form of a food treat, but it could be a scratch behind the ears, a rub under the chin, or a pat on the head as well. The important thing is that the dog is rewarded consistently for doing the right thing.

Reward Training

Reward training has become increasingly popular in recent years, but chances are some sort of reward training between humans and dogs has been going on for hundreds if not thousands of years. The main reason for this is because thousands of years ago, humans functioned in the world of intuition more so than they do today. It was an innate ability that has been stifled over the years.

When understanding what makes reward training so effective, some knowledge of the history of humans and dogs is very helpful. The earliest dogs were probably wolf pups that were tamed and used by early humans for protection from predators, like alarm systems, and later for guarding and herding livestock.

It is possible that the wolf pups that made the best companions were the most easily trained, or it is possible that these early dogs were orphaned or abandoned wolf pups. Whatever their origin, there is little doubt today that the vast variety of dogs we see today have their origin in the humble wolf.

The pack animal and hierarchy

Wolf packs, like packs of wild dogs, operate on a strict pack hierarchy. Since wolf and dog packs hunt as a group, this type of hierarchy, and the cooperation it brings, is essential to the survival of the species. Intuitively every dog in the pack knows his or her place in the pack, and except in the event of death or injury, the hierarchy, once established, rarely changes.

Every dog, therefore, is hard-wired by nature to look to the pack leader for guidance. The basis of all good dog training, including reward-based training, is for the human to set him or herself up as the pack leader. The pack leader is more than just the dominant dog or the one who tells all the subordinates what to do. More importantly, the pack leader provides leadership and protection, and his or her leadership is vital to the success and survival of the pack.

It is important for the dog to see itself as part of a pack, to intuitively know the human as the leader of that pack, and to respect his or her authority. Some dogs are much easier to dominate than others. However, it’s not about dominance more so than it’s a knowing, an intuitive belief. If you watch a group of puppies playing for a little while, you will quickly recognize the different personalities.

Positive reinforcement

A dog with a more passive personality will generally be easier to train using positive reinforcement since he or she will not want to challenge the human for leadership. Even dominant dogs respond very well to positive reinforcement because intuitively they know that this is the alignment with the human they seek. There are, in fact, few dogs that do not respond well to positive reinforcement, also known as reward training.

Positive reinforcement is also the best way to retrain a dog that has behavior problems, especially one that has been abused in the past. Learning how to communicate using your intuition might gain the respect and trust of an abused dog however it can be very difficult. And combined with positive reinforcement, intuitive dog training is better than any other training method for creating this important bond. Intuitively dogs know who are the good humans and who are not, it’s about building that trust back.

In conclusion

No matter what type of dog you are working with, chances are it can be helped with intuitive positive reinforcement training methods. Based on your training methods on intuition, respect, and trust, rather than on intimidation and fear, is the best way to get the most from any dog.