Our Methodology

Overview

We advocate the use of humane and positive reward based methods. Our force-free methods motivate dogs to be eager to work with you producing more consistent results with less stress. We strongly disagree with the use of punishment which has become popular due to some TV trainers.

 

These techniques are misused, do more harm to the animal and can actually exacerbate the problem they were intended to solve. Training is approached in a scientific way without physical punishment or manipulation. The health and well being of the animal is paramount. Behaviors we want to see happen again are reinforced with tasty treats or toys and behaviors we do not want to see again are ignored and alternate behaviors that can be reinforced are provided.

Reward Marker



Communication with your dog is key. We need a way to say “yes” and a way to say “no”.

 

This curriculum is designed in a way that clicker use is optional because some people find it cumbersome or intimidating. However, a reward marker is not optional. In all activities the “click” and the verbal marker “yes” are interchangeable and will be referred to as “mark”.

 

Either reward marker is taught in the same way. We teach the dog that the “click” or “yes” is a good thing by pairing it with food. One mark equals a treat and repeat. Once the dog is anticipating the treat after a mark we can then use it to communicate to the dog that we liked the behavior he just did. This positive consequence will result in him repeating the behavior that produced that response.“No” is communicated by using a No Reward Marker, NRM, such as “Too Bad” or “Time Out”. This is said in a neutral tone and followed by a 3 second to 30 second loss of attention from the trainer or a time out from training.

 

If you find that you are saying “No” more than “Yes” then you need to take a step back and make the approximation a little easier so that you can reward the dog.

Reward



Food treats are a great reward when teaching new skills, because we need a quick reward that we can give many times in a row to teach the meaning of a new command. They should be small and chewy. We can use daily life activities like walks, playtime, belly rubs and access to the couch as environmental rewards.Food treats are a great reward when teaching new skills, because we need a quick reward that we can give many times in a row to teach the meaning of a new command. They should be small and chewy. We can use daily life activities like walks, playtime, belly rubs and access to the couch as environmental rewards.

Reinforcement Schedule

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A continuous reinforcement schedule is used to teach a new behavior. When a dog learns to do something reliably in response to a signal, we keep her motivated to perform by rewarding her for the behavior intermittently. Once a dog is weaned off treats, continue to reward with food about 10% of the time so that the dog will remain reliable on commands.

Distractions



Start each exercise in a calm, quiet environment with no distractions. You will say the cue one time.When the dog is successful at 5 out of 5 repetitions then you can start adding distractions indoors. Then move outdoors until the dog can successfully perform each behavior outside with moderate distractions.

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