There are many different approaches to dog training and many different ways
of implementing each of those approaches. Most techniques utilized today
however, are premised upon the idea that positive reinforcement is likely to
create the best results. Virtually every truly functional dog training system is
outgrowth of positive reinforcement thinking.
Regardless of which specific program a dog owner may choose to adopt, there are common pitfalls that can be avoided. Dog owners are particularly susceptible to making three critical errors, which if avoided will make the training process far more enjoyable and effective. Three of the most common mistakes are inconsistency, impatience and treating the dog as a subject instead of a training partner.
Consistency may be hobgoblin of little minds in terms of the need for human creativity. With respect to dog training, however, inconsistency is the quickest way to reduce the experience's effectiveness.
Dogs thrive on predictability. In fact, their ability to grasp cause and effect is at the very root of training. Operant conditioning is predicated on the fact that dogs will begin to associate events with consistent outcomes. This notion of consistency's importance must be extended to the overall process of dog training.
A dog is likely to best respond to a system in which regular actions produce regular results. Too often, dog owners fail to be entirely consistent. In the dog's mind, these lapses in regularity convey a sense of randomness to the process and make it difficult for the pet to associate his specific behaviors with specific results, the key to training. Dogs will excel when they are taught that things happen for specific reasons. When surprises occur it undermines the whole of the training process.
A successful trainer will retain consistency and will not deviate from an established course.
There can be a great deal of frustration in dog training. Concepts we believe dogs should be able to grasp easily often escape them completely for quite some time.
We live in a world that is so often focused on immediate results. We learn to expect that our actions will be met by prompt, anticipated responses. Dog training runs counter to this societal trend toward speedy, immediate gratification. Training is an extended process that can require a great deal of patience from the trainer.
Impatience results in unpredictability on the part of the owner as they hastily cease a training session or abandon positive reinforcement techniques in hopes of finding a shortcut to desired results. Patience is, indeed, a virtue when one considers the role of the owner in a dog training situation.
A successful trainer will master developing a patient outlook throughout the extended process of dog training.
Treating The Dog As A Subject Instead Of A Partner
Dog training requires two participants: the dog and the owner. Frequently, however, owners tend to perceive the process as being uniquely about them. They fret over their techniques, equipment and strategies without giving real consideration to their training partner, the dog.
When an owner approaches the dog as a simple subject for experimentation, they lose track of what makes the dog unique and denigrate the always-important dog/owner relationship. Training becomes a chore, rather than a joint activity. What might have been a pleasurable chance for interaction becomes an un-enjoyable task.
Dogs are sufficiently intuitive to be attuned to a trainer's attitude and are less receptive to learning when they are treated merely as a subject instead of as a complete being. Owners who fail to see their pet?s identity during training are unable to pick up on subtle clues and possible means to improve their techniques.
The successful trainer will treat his dog as a full partner in training, not merely as a subject.
By avoiding these three common pitfalls, a dog owner is more likely to be able to implement a training strategy that produces results. Additionally, the training experience is likely to be enjoyable for both the dog and owner, giving them a tremendous opportunity to build their relationship. Regardless of the exact methodology adopted by the owner, the training process will benefit extraordinarily from avoiding the mistakes of inconsistency, impatience and treating your pet as a subject instead of as a partner.