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Dog Training: When to Reprimand And When to Reward

Dogs do not have a sense of what is right and what is wrong especially if they are new to your household. They rely on the cues we give them to let them know what kind of behaviour is good and which is not good.

During training, the concept of rewarding a dog is to help them understand when they are doing the right thing and when they are not.

Dogs will never refuse treats, thus it is important that when you are giving a dog a treat you do it for the right reason. That way, the dog will not get confused.

When rewarding, remember, you want the dog to associate the reward with good behaviour and the reprimand with bad behaviour. Thus, the reward should be offered immediately following the good behaviour and the reprimand immediately after the bad behaviour. Do not hold out till later to give the reward, the dog will think that that is just like any other treat he gets.

When to reward

- If you have taught a dog a new command such as sit and the dog responds when you give the command, then you can reward the dog by patting him on the head or giving him a treat.

- You have caught your dog doing something he/she is not supposed to do. If you say “no” and the dog immediately stops the bad behaviour.

- When reviewing a previous lesson, reward the dog if he remembers what you did. Praise him for a good job. If the dog takes time to remember, be patient, praise the dog when he does the right thing.

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- Every time the dog does something positive. Whether he is walking on his leash without tugging or sitting while the leash is being attached. Good behaviours should be rewarded to reinforce the actions.

A reward does not have to be a treat for the dog to eat or put in his mouth. At times, rewarding can be as simple as a pat on the head or saying “good boy/girl”

When to reprimand

Reprimanding is not physical punishment; it is just your way of showing the dog that you do not approve of his behaviour. When reprimanding you want to keep the reprimand brief and be consistent. Do not condone bad behaviour in one setting and reject it in another. Bad behaviour should be taken as such and the dog should be reprimanded to ensure it does not become a habit.

- When the dog fails to follow basic command that he knows. Before you reprimand, make sure he can hear you making a noise in the same voice you used when giving the command. If he shows a response then you are sure his hearing is ok.

- When you catch a dog doing something bad. This includes digging, chewing on shoes, gloves, clothes and biting or being aggressive to other dogs.

- If the dog does not behave during training. Even if he is bored or tired do not allow him to act out.

You can reprimand by using verbal reprimand such as “bad boy,” “no”. You can also reprimand the dog by failing to give him a treat or by giving the dog an alternative to the bad behaviour then praising the dog for taking the alternative.

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