Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Praise With A Purpose & A Plan

OK, guys let's make one thing perfectly clear, anemically saying, "Good dog" once in a while is not good enough!
Most trainers tell you to praise your dog; there is nothing new in that.
What we are talking about is praise with a purpose and a plan.
The plan is to get your praise to matter to the dog. If your dog falls in love with being praised, pleasing you becomes important.
In order to implement this plan, you have to praise a lot. If your dog looks like he is thinking about doing right, he needs to hear a happy, "Good dog!"
You want to praise so well that the dog butt wiggles all over at the sound of , "What a good dog!"
If your dog does not look at you when you praise, you're not doing right. Don't be above giving treats, if the dog doesn't care about what you have to say. Just remember the plan is to love the praise, so tone of voice is major.
In the initial stage of this program you want to praise so often that your dog comes to look for the reinforcement.
My dogs expect to be reinforced. If I don't tell them they are good, they wonder what they have done wrong.
The purpose is to identify the good dog zone. That's where they get the praise.
It's a beautiful thing to how confident a dog becomes when they know what they are doing pleases you.
Dr. Temple Grandin has identified fear as the strongest emotion in animals. Recently I've had some experiences that have brought this message home to me with a vengence.
Conitioning my dog to identifly the good dog zone has taught him to place pleasing me above his reaction to fear. That's pretty powerful.

1 comment:

  1. Just had this one reinforced for me this past weekend. Spent the weekend taking care of a group of dogs (at a dog show) that don't hear as many "good dogs" as I dish out on a regular basis. While I've been away at school they've been traveling with out me and there were quite a few daily tasks that needed some improvement. (going in and out of pens, not barging out of doors, ect.) They got it fast and instantly seemed to be smitten with me. (I love this) I know these dogs very well and they know me but we haven't spent any time together in over 8 mos. Within hours they were changed animals. They were just waiting for their chance to come out and "play" with me. Their owner always jokes that I steal her dogs... They all want to sleep with me at night. Praise is a powerful tool when used to reinforce behaviors you would like to see repeated.