Paws Abilities

“I shouldn’t have to give my dog a treat when he comes. He should do it because he loves me.”

Oh, how these words make us trainers cringe! This common and persistant myth that dogs should always be perfectly obedient just because their owners told them to is ridiculous and is harmful to the human-canine bond.

This myth seems to have originated from compulsive training techniques. With traditional techniques, a dog was praised when he made the correct choice and was corrected (punished) if he didn’t comply. Dogs trained using these methods do indeed work for praise alone without the need for a more substantial reward like food or a toy, but they do so because praise serves as a safety cue.

These dogs learn that when they’re being praised, they’re not in imminent danger of a correction. While praise in these situations certainly functions as a reinforcer, it…

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