Importance of Praise

Home/Aggression, Obedience/Importance of Praise

Importance of Praise

 

  • Praise is as simple as a “good boy” or a “good girl”. This marker of “good”, taught properly can have more impact than food or any other reward.
  • Looked at in its simplest form, the “good” marker is a snapshot in time you want the dog to remember.
  • Praise as a marker is a very powerful tool and should be emphasized throughout the relationship with your dog. With that said, it is also the most underutilized tool that owners and trainers have at their disposal.
  • It’s human nature to remember and mark the bad. When training, I rarely need to tell the owner they missed marking a bad behavior, but I am constantly reminding them to mark the good because they either forget, or aren’t even aware they should be marking it.
  • Praise offsets the stress of a situation and can also counter the correction after the dog has righted itself.
  • Praise needs to be always used. This means even after you have had to correct your dog. This is where people get confused, and the dog for that matter. Many people, including trainers don’t realize the importance of marking the good behavior even after a correction was given, or in some cases, I never see the dog get praised after completing a command. In many cases it seems like it is a given that the dog should listen. This is absolutely true, but with a properly timed praise, it can enhance the experience or even crystalize a situation that was otherwise unclear to the dog. The dog needs to know it is doing what we have asked them, especially after a correction. If you aren’t marking the good behavior, the dog will not know for sure if they did the right thing.
  • Behaviors can even be marked when no command was ever given. We can use this powerful tool to shape the dog’s experiences and understanding of the world. A good example of this would be if you had a dog aggressive dog and one day you were just standing there and another dog walked by. For whatever reason you hadn’t given your dog any kind of formal command such as a “Leave It”, but your dog looked at the passing dog and then looked away, or better yet, to you. This should be marked with a “good boy or girl”. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, but the simple act of marking it tells the dog so much. You marked the lack of bad behavior (not reacting to the other dog), you marked a better alternative behavior (looking away or to you), and we showed the dog it is alright to visually engage in the world around them as long as they maintain an acceptable energy level.
  • You can have too much praise. People tend to praise so much and not at important moments, that it just becomes white noise that loses its meaning of importance to the dog. In extreme cases it can actually become a security blanket or a crutch for a fearful or unsure dog and actually can cause a negative behavior to happen or
2015-11-10T18:44:19+00:00