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Teaching a dog a tick can be a rewarding experience for both pet and owner. It provides an opportunity for positive interaction between the dog and his trainer, which is always desirable.
Additionally, it creates future opportunities for the dog to engage in approved behavior while also providing both parties a feeling of satisfaction.
Thousands of tricks have been taught to dogs ranging from the common (“roll over”) to the entirely unique. Certainly thousands of new tricks are being conceived and taught to dogs with each passing day. Despite the diversity of tricks, all share some common traits. Chief among these commonalities is the framework in which successful trick training occurs.
All successful trick teachers do some things in common. They understand the necessary foundations for successful trick instruction and are mindful to the “tricks” they must know before they even begin to work with their dog. That’s right, teaching a dog a trick requires knowing a few of your own!
There are three “tricks” the owner must learn before teaching a dog a trick. These three “tricks” are choosing proper tricks, choosing proper rewards, and remaining positive throughout the teaching process.
Choosing Proper Tricks
When selecting a trick to teach a dog, one is far more likely to have a successful and rewarding experience if they choose a trick for which the animal is well suited. A dog who hates to rear up on his hind legs, for instance, is a poor candidate for any “learning to walk” trick. Meanwhile, a dog who seemingly loves to bring things to people is an excellent candidate for a trick based on “fetching.”
Tricks should be chosen with the dog and his predilections in mind. Trying to teach a trick that runs contrary to a dog’s personal nature increases frustration and difficulty and makes the process less valuable for both parties. Thus it is incumbent upon the owner to choose tricks that are consistent with the dog’s personality, preferences and skills.
Choose Proper Rewards
Teaching tricks is premised on the notion of rewarding desired behavior until it becomes second nature. In order to maximize the likelihood of successful teaching, one must choose rewards that are particularly coveted by the dog.
Some dogs, for instance, thrive simply on praise and this may be enough of an enticement through the trick learning process to produce desired results. Other dogs may have a strong affinity for a particular treat. Using that treat as a reward while teaching the trick will provide the dog with a wonderfully strong motivation to perform.
Too often, the unsuccessful teacher will rely on praise for a dog that is inadequately impressed by it or on a specific treat the dog may enjoy but does not truly love. By targeting the optimal reward, one increases the chances for trick learning success.
Teaching a dog a trick should always be premised on positive reinforcement. Learning and teaching tricks should be a fun activity designed to bring the owner and dog closer together. Unfortunately, some frustrated trick instructors will find themselves tempted to use stern tones or other disciplinary tactics on a dog that is failing to learn a trick.
These efforts generally backfire. The dog fails to learn the trick and the owner has turned a potentially valuable and fun exercise into a negative experience for all involved.
Instead of allowing the process to degenerate into a negative experience, owners should be mindful of the need to retain a positive technique. If a teaching episode is going nowhere, it is preferable to simply end it and to try again at some other time instead of using negative reinforcement as a teaching method.
Sometimes trick instruction can be difficult and frustrating. Nonetheless it is important to remember to focus on positive reinforcement. One must make the experience a fun activity, not a threatening one.
By making wise choices in the tricks to be taught, using appropriate rewards during the teaching process and retaining a focus on the positive, teaching a dog tricks can be a great and rewarding experience with lasting benefits for both the dog and his owner.
By learning a few tricks of your
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