Reward Based Training and its Role in Dog Behavior

Reward Based Training and its Role in Dog BehaviorReward Based Training and its Role in Dog Behavior

According to an article published on the 4PawsUniversity site, there is a common misconception that reward-based training methods won’t work on dogs who have problems with their behavior, including aggression, or that reward-based trainers recommend ignoring all bad behavior. Quite the contrary, reward-based trainers only advise ignoring behavior that does not threaten the safety of property, people, or animals. They believe in outsmarting the dog by planning ahead and preventing problem behaviors from recurring during the training process.

As we discussed in a previous blog post, there has been some argument that positive reinforcement training can possible prevent a dog bite. While there is no fool-proof way to prevent or predict a dog bite, regardless of the breed, it is helpful to know what type of training methods might reduce the risk. Essentially, positive reinforcement and reward based training praises the behaviors or actions that you’d like to see in your dog, and ignores undesirable behaviors.

The opposite of reward based training is discipline based training. These types of programs tend to use punishment as a major tool; taking away privileges, inflicting pain, or using some other negative enforcement tactic if the dog refuses to behave in the desired manner. This punishment might come in the form of a leash jerk, shock from an electric collar, scolding, or even slapping the dog. Training experts believe that not only does this cause the dog to fear its trainer rather than respect him or her, it may result in even more undesirable behavior; in the form of a dog bite.

Reward based training is the preferred training method of a large majority. This alternative focuses on desired behaviors resulting in a good outcome, such as treats or praise, and bad behavior simply yields no results. This type of training, according to experts, can first teach a dog (including an aggressive one) basic skills that it may be lacking such as walking nicely on a leash, holding a down-stay at the front door, etc., then work on practicing those skills at greater intensities, gradually building the dog’s tolerance to situations that normally trigger bad or aggressive behavior.

It’s important to consult a professional trainer before attempting any type of training on an aggressive dog. Doing so can prevent dog bites or other issues from occurring. Prevention and reward are considered by many to be the key to improving canine behavior. F.I.D.O., the Federation of Insured Dog Owners, Inc., now offers the Covered Canine Policy, an exclusive product and benefit for F.I.D.O. members only that specializes in Dog Bite Liability Insurance Programs  This policy is available in California, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Utah and Wisconsin. It will protect you should your dog bite an individual and cause harm. It does not exclude any breed of dog and starts as low as $75 per dog, per year.

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