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Pet Health

The Power of Positive Training Make learning a fun experience, and both you and your dog will reap the rewards. By Shelly Korobanik

W

e love our pets, particularly when they are behaving the way we want. But, just as with people, our pets are likely to show some behaviours that you absolutely love, and a few you really don’t appreciate. All too often, people focus on the negative behaviours being displayed by their dog (or other pet), instead of focusing on the positive behaviours they want from their dog. They look to resolve the unwanted behaviour using traditional training techniques that impose physical punishment such as leash corrections or electric shock when bad behaviours are displayed. While this may stop the behaviour at that moment, it does not communicate to their dog the behaviour that is acceptable. The first step of positive training begins with a change in a person’s point of view from a negative one: “I don’t want my dog to jump up on people when they come over” to a positive one: “I want my dog to welcome people politely.” Once you have identified the desired behaviour, the training can commence. Through the use of a tiny device known as a clicker, bad behaviours are extinguished, desired behaviours are learned, your relationship with your pet

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is strengthened, and the fun of positive, lifelong learning begins! So how does positive training work? Remember Pavlov’s dogs? Pavlov noticed that when he fed dogs they would salivate when food was presented. He then started to ring a bell before the food was presented and quickly noticed that the dogs would salivate upon hearing the bell in anticipation of the food that was to follow. The dogs learned to associate the sound of the bell with the presentation of food. Clicker training works in a similar fashion, whereby animals learn to associate the sound of the click with receiving a reward. The clicker is used to make the precise moment your pet performs a desired behaviour with an identical sound each and every time. When this is followed with a reward, your pet will quickly learn to associate the click to receiving a reward and will be more eager to provide the desired behaviour necessary to acquire that click. Through repeated positive reinforcement of good behaviours, your pet will be motivated to continue to offer these behaviours. How are undesired behaviours handled? With positive training, bad behaviours are diminished using negative punishment. Negative punishment means the removal of something desirable in order to reduce the bad behaviour. So to deal with the earlier example of the dog jumping up

36 Summer ‘14 - Okanagan Health & Wellness Magazine

www.ohwmagazine.com

Okanagan Health & Wellness Magazine Summer 2014  
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