Behavior & Training

Masthead_BehaviorWe all learn faster when we are not stressed, confused, or punished. On the flip side, when “work” is fun, has consistent rules, and we are rewarded for our good work, we look forward to it and want to continue working. This is no different for our dogs. This is why Hello Bully promotes positive training methods.

What is Positive Reinforcement Training? Some people are under the (wrong) impression that Positive Reinforcement Training is bribing a dog with treats. This is untrue! The truth is that Positive Reinforcement Training is based on science and learning theory. Using Operant Conditioning, dogs will repeat behaviors that are reinforced. Reinforcement can come in many forms, not just treats! A reward can be anything that your dog enjoys and is motivated by. Most commonly though, food is a dog’s greatest motivator. It can also be toys, play, attention, affection, praise, etc! You need to find out what works for your individual dog.

In a nutshell, here’s how positive training works works: Positive Reinforcement for desired behaviors = Repeated Behavior. No Positive Reinforcement = No Behavior. What’s missing from this equation? Punishment. Some trainers use aversive methods that only teach dogs what NOT to do (pulling on the leash = pain or discomfort) instead of teaching them what TO do (walk nicely and we get to move forward! Hooray!) While traditional methods may seem to work, they often backfire, causing fear, anxiety, and/or aggression. For example, say you are teaching your dog not to pull on the leash by using a choke or prong collar. The unpleasant stimulus just happens to coincide with a small child walking down the street. You may end up with a dog who has anxiety associated with small children. Punishment can suppress behaviors instead of treating and or teaching new, appropriate ones. A dog may comply so that he is not punished, but it does not mean he is enjoying learning or that he even understands what he SHOULD be doing instead. With punishment or aversive based training, you also run the risk of damaging your relationship with your dog. Some dogs will literally shut down because they can no longer tolerate the punishments or the stress of learning.

Positive training can’t backfire because it’s not a loaded weapon. Positive training is:

  • Fun
  • Easy
  • Inexpensive
  • Backed by science
  • Safe for all ages (young children with supervision, of course)
  • Appropriate for ALL dogs

Positive Reinforcement Training can make a shy dog confident and teach an overly excited dog self-control. The more you do it, the faster it works! If you reward for 10 things you like every day, your dog will repeat those things often. The best way to work with a Pit Bull is to reward desirable behaviors and ignore, interrupt, and/or teach an alternative behavior to the undesirable ones. Remove rewards when the animal behaves in an undesirable way and do not use physical punishment of any kind. This training works for any animal (even humans!).

Hello Bully is happy to provide the following training handout that includes all of the basics and some great tips. Click here to download the PDF.

If you are having training issues with your dog, please contact our Behavior Team for help. Advice is free and we can often provide easy solutions that will help your dog be better behaved. Please email training@hellobully.com or leave a message at 412-235-1997.