Have you seen the “Pet Shaming” posts? They focus on a picture of a pet with a little sign around their neck sharing a humorous misdeed, like “I unrolled all the toilet paper.” They’re cute, they’re funny and they will probably not help correct the misbehavior. Today we’ll be talking about shaping behavior with positive reinforcement training for pets. Let’s face it, as adults we usually prefer when someone tells us what a great job we’re doing than when someone gets angry and tells us what we’re doing wrong. Why not try the same treatment on our pets?
Positive Reinforcement Training For Pets
1. Praise Your Pet. When you see your dog doing a behavior you would like reinforced, like sitting at your feet instead of jumping on the couch, praise him. This can be done verbally-“What a good boy!” along with petting and attention, or you can provide a small treat. The key is to praise in the moment. Catch him being good and tell him so immediately.
2. Be Consistent. If you’re a parent, you’ve probably realized telling a child something one time isn’t enough. (“Junior, we use a fork instead of our hands.”) The same thing works with pets. (“We can’t jump on the couch.” Remove. Repeat.) Over time pets will begin to remember these instructions.
3. Give Treats. Keep a variety of small food treats on hand to share when you catch your pet being good. Don’t give too much! Make sure it’s a smaller treat that will tempt them to repeat the pattern and earn more treats. This can be used as a supplement along with verbal praise and attention.
4. Give Simple Commands. Have you noticed that “Set the table, please,” works better on the kids than saying, “It’s time for dinner so please go set the table now. We’ll need forks, spoons, plates, napkins and glasses. Get the plastic ones today please.” If your children are like mine, this is going to get lost somewhere in translation. The same is true with pets. Try a simple command like, “Stay,” rather than, “Rio, I need you to stay right here at the door. Don’t move, just stay.”
5. Be excited. When you praise your pet, don’t use a normal or monotone voice. Instead, use your “perky” voice. Let your pet know you’re excited they did a good job!
Do you have any tried and true pet training strategies?
Do you have a “purrfect” pet? Join in the #PetPraising movement! Purina is inviting pet owners across the nation to share their Pet Praising pictures. Go to Pure Love For Pets and submit a photo to enter the Pet Praising sweepstakes! You can show anyway your pet enhances your life or any positive aspect of pet ownership. The sweepstakes begins on April 26 and runs through May 24th. Remember to use the hashtag #PetPraising in your photos!
The grand prize winner will receive a professional photoshoot for you and your pet that will be featured on RealSimple.com! Their website also is a great resource for celebrating National Pet Month and learning about all the great new items Purina has to offer.