Corrections and rewards
in dog training

Corrections and rewards - what are they and why should we use them when training our dogs? You will be automatically overwhelmed by the many different types and methods of dog training systems once you decide to train your dog.

Each corrections and rewards system has its own inherent pros and cons, all of which should be considered BEFORE dog training actually begins. Changing these mid-stream during training can be terribly confusing to the dog, if not to yourself as well.

The easiest thing in most dog training cases is to lure the dog into the desired position and then reward the animal. Verbal praise, food and attention are some of the best reinforcers and are a great reward for good behaviors.

Remember when using food to eventually phase it out or to reward with food on a variable basis only. Do not let the dog expect the food - it should be a surprise and a treat for good work only during dog training sessions.

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Below we will list and briefly describe many types of common corrections and rewards systems used when training your dog. Any of these different corrections and rewards methods could be used individually or could be grouped together as best fits your own individual dog training needs.

Corrections and Rewards: REWARDS

FOOD, as always, is one of the strongest rewards. This is also one of the most often used methods by many trainers. It is best used when teaching new behaviors. After the correct response is attained the food should eventually be phased out. Try giving every 3rd try then every 4th, then on the 2nd, etc. Don't let the dog EXPECT the food. Let it be a motivation for the desired behavior.

VERBAL PRAISE - This can be very effective on some animals. If paired with food rewards, it is even more effective. This may be given at any time during training but timing is crucial! Also, remember the tone of your voice is much more important than what you are actually saying so try to keep as upbeat and happy a voice as possible when training your dog.

PETTING/STROKING - When using this dog training method it is best to know your dog because this may very well prove distracting during training. Make sure this does not break your dogs concentration while you are training.

PLAY - A wonderful reinforcement tool, but best as a non-immediate reinforcement. Drug dogs and K-9's are often trained using this reinforcer. Also search and rescue dogs. Knowing what activities your pet likes best (chasing a ball,etc.) is one good way to end the training session. In this way the dog will connect the training with the game.

ATTENTION - Valued by all dogs, this is a very effective way of having an animal respond with a behavior. Even if the animal wants you to pet it, for example, and it bumps into you and you respond by stroking it, or telling it to move, etc. you have given the dog attention. Try to keep the attention positive.

CLICKER TRAINING - Clicker training is often used by many animal trainers and places a lot of emphasis on discovering efficient ways to get the desired behavior to happen. Clicker trained dogs also tend to be very focused on their trainers throughout dog training sessions as well.

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Corrections and Rewards: CORRECTIONS

VERBAL REPRIMANDS can be quite effective with SOME dogs, but not all dogs respond in the same way to this type of correction. When using this method in your dog training, your voice should be sharp and firm and to be most efficient, this should be administered at the same time the unwanted behavior occurs.

NOISES - Sudden, unexpected noises are effective in halting many unwanted behaviors before they occur. The sound often distracts the dog long enough to keep it from responding with the unwanted behavior. Next, get the dog away from "the scene of the (attempted) crime". NEVER put the dog in its crate as any type of punishment or reprimand- especially in this type of setting removal situation.

RATTLE CAN - In this dog training method especially, timing is crucial! If your dog exhibits unwanted behavior(s), throw the rattle can near (NOT AT) the dog. The can could be a soda can filled with 10 - 20 pennies. In most cases it will startle the dog long enough to discontinue the unwanted behavior. Do not let the dog see you throw it if possible. You want the dog to connect the can to the behavior - not to you.

SCRUFF SHAKES - These shakes imitate what the mother does with her pups and it sends a strong message - NO! Grab the dog by the loose skin on the back or side of the neck and shake the dog a few times - HARD. It may yelp but you will hurt its feelings more than anything.

PHYSICAL CORRECTIONS - Hitting, slapping, kicking, etc. are all harmful in destroying your dogs temperament. Do not use this type of correction in your dog training sessions - it only produces fearful, unreliable dogs.

Corrections and rewards in dog training are essential. The rule of thumb, as always, should be that no type of force or abuse should be used while training your dog. Lets break that down even further - this would include no jerking, pulling, shoving or tripping the dog into the desired behavior.

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If you would like more information on corrections and rewards methods used in dog training you can also pick a local dog trainers brain for more information and tips and tricks on how to better train your own dog or check online for more research.

Corrections and rewards used in dog training are tremendously important and it is vital that you pick the method that works best with your individual dog. Keep your dog training fun, upbeat and short in length and always end on a good note and your dog training sessions should always go fine.

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Trained or not, he'll always be his own dog to a degree." - Carol Lea Benjamin