Thanks to Chris N. for sharing these wonderful tips about training with us:
“If there’s one foolproof way to get your dog’s undivided attention, whether giving simple commands or coaxing your best friend to jump through rings of fire, the promise of a delicious treat works wonders. Dogs may be simple, but they’re not stupid. Your pet knows the difference between dry dog food and a juicy steak. Similarly, it can tell the difference between a standard dog biscuit and a chewy, high quality, My Doggy Soft Baked Cookie.
The old adage, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” isn’t actually true. Your dog can learn at any stage of life. However, simple training is best done at the puppy stage. The key is providing a reward they deem worthy of their effort.
Shaping behavior with positive reinforcement is the best way to get your dog to sit, stay, roll over, or speak on command. It won’t happen overnight, but, with daily practice, you’ll be surprised to see just how quickly your pooch will catch on. Positive reinforcement works as effectively on dogs as is does on people. One of the main incentives for getting up and going to work every day is the promise that we will be rewarded with a paycheck. That’s a no-brainer, right? The same is true when it comes to fostering good habits and rewarding favorable behavior with your pet.
When training your dog to perform a specific task, use short commands and “load” them into the dog’s memory. Dogs can’t understand complex sentences. The end result is usually a blank stare or an animal whose attention has drifted off to its nether regions. “Sit,” “stay,” “come,” “off,” “down,” or “leave it,” are the words you want to employ as “loading” commands during training.
Stand in front of your dog and say the dog’s name, followed by the command, “sit.” If your dog sits down, reward it with a tasty cookie. As it learns each new command, promptly reward it for performing the desired behavior. If your dog does not sit on the first command, try again. After a second failure, physically show the dog how to perform the desired behavior by firmly (but gently) pressing your palms on its hips until it sits. Reward the dog with a cookie for following your command. Continue to practice until your dog understands the command thoroughly.
Congratulations! You’re well on your way to shaping your dog’s behavior with positive reinforcement. It’s a good rule of thumb to reward your dog with cookies for desirable behavior four out of five times for each trial. Reward your dog for corrected behavior three out of five times. Then, as your dog gradually learns and commits the desired behavior to memory, reward him two out of five times. You can also reward with praise alone.
Just keep in mind that My Doggy Soft Baked Cookies are a premium treat. Overuse of premium treats as rewards can diminish your dog’s desire for dry food. Once your dog masters a behavior, and your new, tasty reward protocol is firmly established, it’s time to up the ante and introduce a new trick. You’ll enjoy training your dog as much as your dog will enjoy My Doggy Soft Baked Cookies—as if that’s even possible.”
I didn’t realize that overuse of treats would “spoil” the pet and appetite (so to speak). Good to know.