MVVS Blog

How dogs learn

By June 30, 2021No Comments

Whether you just got a new puppy or have adopted a senior dog, there are a few key things to remember while training your new companion.

Schedules – Regardless of age, all pets respond better with schedules. Set feeding times, bathroom breaks and exercise will benefit your pet and you.

Repetition – Having everyone in the home using the same commands will help your dog “remember” what you are asking them to do. Remember to keep your commands to 1-2 syllables. “Potty”, “sit”, “stay” and “leave it” are some of the best commands to begin.

Reinforcements – Dogs can develop good and bad behaviors from the results of any given situation. Think in terms of what makes you happy, you will continue to do whatever it is to be happy. The same thing happens with your dog. Think of the following scenarios:

  • constantly barking until food is given
  • going “potty” outside then receives a treat
  • receiving affection while fearful during a thunderstorm
  • praising and petting pup after retrieving toy
  • pulling paw away as you try to trim nails you walk away and nails don’t get done
  • “shake” and getting a treat

In the eyes of your dog, all of these scenarios had a happy ending but the scenarios in bold can create more or worse problems down the line if not corrected. NEVER EVER hit, rub their nose or abuse your dog in any way for an unwanted behavior. Positive reinforcement can alter the behaviors. Rewards must occur immediately to be effective. Each dog responds to rewards differently. You must figure out what motivates your pup. By creating a setting where your dog wants to learn and perform the task that is asked, s/he will retain the command quicker. There are 3 positive reinforcement motivations: food rewards, toy rewards and praise rewards.

Food rewards don’t have to be top-of-the-line dog biscuits. A few pieces of their dry food can be just as effective for a dog that is food motivated.
Toy rewards like their favorite squeaky toy can bring just as much joy to your dog.

Praise reward – affection using voice and touch

These are just a few tips to get you started in the right direction with your pet. It is a good idea to find an obedience trainer to strengthen your bond together.

Happy July 4th!

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