Dog training is the process of behaviour analysis that applies the historical antecedents and resultant consequences of behaviour to change the dog’s behaviour, either for it to better perform certain tasks or undertake new ones, or for it to better behave in modern domestic life. It has two aspects – one is to change the dogs’ undesirable traits, such as aggressive or misbehaved behaviour; and the second is to fit it into the dogs’ personality or way of being, so that it can fit into today’s society and interact with others. The latter part is more difficult because many of today’s ‘pack’ animals are bred to be aggressive, have large canine feet, have short noses, long snouts etc., and so they are not naturally fitted as simple domestic creatures. However, this doesn’t mean that it is impossible to achieve this; indeed there are some very good books and courses to help you.

However, if you do undertake particular ‘dog training’ tasks yourself, then the first step is to understand what you want to achieve, and then choose a programme that can help you do this. If you are looking for ways of changing your pet’s undesirable behavior such as aggression or misbehaving, then this might take longer, but you should certainly start by learning some basics and reading up on suitable techniques and methods. If your goal is to develop a kinder, friendlier dog or a ‘gentler’ companion to live with, then you’ll need a different approach. However, there are a great number of helpful dog training courses on offer these days, and you can make use of them to learn the basics and prepare yourself for the task ahead.

The initial stage of this training method is to determine what type of reward you wish to give your dog to reinforce the desired behavior. This is usually a ‘toy’, or something small that he likes. He will get lots of ‘attention’ from you if you use this method regularly.

In clicker training, you simply set off a ‘click’ sound and a reaction of some sort, which your pet understands. You can use your voice, a clicker, your hand or some other stimulus. It is really important that you set off the click at the exact moment that your pet exhibits the desired behaviors. This way, he associates the sound with the desired behavior. Some people use a bell to stop a puppy from barking, but it is not recommended, as the puppy may well continue to bark as a reaction to the bell, which is unlikely to be desirable either.

You can also use operant conditioning for training a dog. It involves using something like a clicker or a positive reward to get your dog to behave in a desired way. In this way, your pet quickly learns by receiving ‘okay’ or ‘fine’ responses for every desired behavior. operant conditioning is useful in dogs because they are very responsive to ‘happy’ or ‘looking forward to’ responses, and tend to learn more quickly from these kinds of associations. operant conditioning also teaches your dog that certain types of behaviors should not be rewarded. This includes jumping up on people, biting and chewing, urinating in inappropriate places etc.

The key to operant conditioning for dogs is that it is effective only if the desired behavior is consistently exhibited by your pet. Therefore, the behaviorist has to work constantly towards establishing this kind of consistency. Once this happens, operant conditioning quickly develops into positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement occurs when your dog performs the desired behavior without any prompting from you.

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