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Training a Dog Through a Reward-Focused Approach

Bradley DiTeresi

A professional and a practicing Catholic with a focus on church-related activities, Bradley DiTeresi sponsors a Philippine child through a Christian foundation. An animal lover, Bradley DiTeresi owns a rat terrier mix and enjoys dog training in his free time.

There are many strategies for training a dog, ranging from the “firm hand” method to one that emphasizes the use of rewards, with minimal punishment involved. The latter approach focuses on teaching a dog desirable traits by providing rewards, such as treats and attention, every time positive behavior is demonstrated. For example, when a dog jumps into a lap at an appropriate time, attention is given. If the dog is ignored when the action is not wanted, he or she will learn from subtle indicators, such as the owner turning away, that this is not the right time for that particular behavior.

One point to consider is that dogs live more fully in the present than humans, and are less able to draw connections between life experiences separated by time. For this reason, consequences for unwanted behavior should be clear and immediate, with playtime or affection halted the moment an unfavorable action occurs. At the same time, good conduct that occurs soon after bad behavior should be amply rewarded in a way which clearly reinforces its desirability.

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