Saturday, September 15, 2012

10 Life-threatening Behaviour Myths in Dogs: #7

Myth # 7:  If you use treats to train a dog, you will always need them to get the dog to obey your commands.

The principles that govern the laws of learning have shown this to be completely untrue.  Treats are an excellent means of reinforcing a behavior. Clear and consistent reinforcement is necessary when you initially begin teaching any animal a new behavior.  For some animals, a vocal reward, toys, or petting may serve as good reinforcers, but food is for many animals the most salient reinforcement there is.
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The rules of learning show that when first teaching a new behavior, reinforcing every single time the behavior is performed on cue will lead to the fastest rate of learning.  This is known as continuous reinforcement.  Once a behavior is learned, intermittent reinforcement is the best means of maintaining the behavior and making it most resistant to extinction.  This means you only need to use treats periodically once the behavior is learned,
People who believe that an animal is not responding because it knows there is no treat available have usually failed to use reinforcement appropriately or don’t realize that the pet has actually not learned the behavior.  It is common for pet owners to think that an animal has learned a command long before it actually has!

FACTWhen used correctly, positive reinforcement training with food rewards is far more likely to be effective and has less chance of doing harm than most other forms of training.
stay tuned....another myth coming soon

1 comment:

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