How Do I Praise My Dog?

By admin Posted in FAQ's /

Q: How must I PRAISE my dog? 

A: A very important aspect of training is rewarding good behaviour. It stands to reason that the more times the dog is rewarded the quicker he will learn. That is why we must create situations where the dog can be praised repeatedly for good behaviour.

It is also important to remember to organise training with increasing levels of difficulty so that the dog can be praised. We are also often inclined to notice bad behaviour rather than good behaviour. We do not praise our dog for quietly chewing a hoof or bone, but go berserk when he chews your slipper. TIMING is very important. If the praise is not given within 2-3 seconds after the good behaviour, the dog may not connect the two and realise what he is being praised for. Dogs also cannot think back and recall what happened in the past, even half a minute ago!!!!! Rather show the dog again and praise! 

If your dog is happy your training sessions will be fun for you and your dog!

You will get the best results from your dog if you can keep his attitude alert and his tail wagging. However, most trainers find it very difficult to praise enthusiastically and “from the heart”, yet it is a skill you must learn if you want to be a successful dog trainer. 

Talk to your dog: “Good girl!” “Good sit!” “You are such a good dog!” “Well done!” In the beginning you must praise without expecting perfection. The dog must be rewarded for the efforts it has made. The dog will feel this and perform better.

The dog must be able to hear the difference in the trainer’s voice in that praise should be a pitch or two higher than usual. 

Pat and hug your dog: Stroke and pat the dog’s head and sides (See Bonding). Do it with so much enthusiasm that you can see that the dog is responding to it and is clearly enjoying the bodily contact. When the puppy is first fed it is an opportunity to stroke her head while you repeat “Good girl” a number of times. 

As a guideline to the  levels of praise (5), the following applies when you praise your dog: 

5 Too much praise results in the dog becoming distracted and not paying attention any more, it jumps up against  

4 the handler or rolls over and cannot learn. It is not thinking any more

3 The dog looks at the handler’s face, is interested and cooperating while ignoring distractions.___________________

2 Training lack enthusiasm. The dog pays attention but is easily distracted.

1 The dog is disinterested in the handler. Training is boring for the dog and handler. They are not having fun, 

It is possible to praise too much but this is seldom the case with new trainers. 

When to praise:

We praise our dog every time he behaves correctly i.e. when he does what we want him to do.

The rule that can be applied is whenever you make a task harder; go back to 100% praise and reward. Then, when the dog consistently performs correctly, go down to 50% praise and reward before making it more difficult again. Try to vary your praise and reward system.

Praise must also be given with understanding. For example:

When your dog responds positively to a command, without you having to force him to do it, then meaningful praise must be given immediately. Encourage the dog right from the moment he reacts correctly. Small pops on the lease and constant praise will guide and tell the dog what he is expected to do.

However, when your dog jumps up against you and you push him away with your knee hard enough to make him sit down in front of you, you cannot praise him because he has not done anything remotely worthy of praise. If you now pat your chest to see if he will do it again and he refuses, then he has done the thinking and deserves enthusiastic praise.

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