MemberDecember 5, 2011 at 5:02 am314
In order for a dog to repeat a behavior reliably on cue it must either result in something rewarding (positive motivation) or a correction (negative motivation). Whether praise alone is rewarding for a dog, depends on the individual personality and the task at hand. The less desirable the action is to the dog, the higher the motivation needs to be. During the teaching phase, using food with praise creates a positive association between the two. As you wean off of treats , the dog will continue to work for the praise alone and for the potential promise of the treat in future events, therefore creating a happily motivated individual. Correction alone, or used quickly after or during the learning phase will usually get compliance but not a happily motivated dog.
Pairing praise with other positive motivators such as toys or food, will strengthen the value and desirablilty of the praise when used alone in the future. Adding fair corrections that the dog knows how to avoid, will increase reliability, while maintaining a happy individual. Using food/ toys to motivate is not an unnecessary intermediate since they ultimately increase compliance, foster a happy attitude and strengthen the bond between owner and dog. Whenever possible the goal of training should not be just a compliant dog , but a dog who is happy to be compliant.
“Believe nothing merely because you have been told it. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher. But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be kind, conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings – that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide.”