Positive Reinforcement Training

You may have noticed that there are different schools of thought when it comes to training methods. Trainers have their own philosophy, but more and more trainers today are approaching the marvelous world of positive reinforcement training. These are training methods based on rewards. In the previous decades, training was more based on the principle “you obey because I say so’’. Today it is most likely “ you obey because you enjoy so’’.

But what are ultimately rewards in the eyes of a dog? Close your eyes and think as your Rottweiler for a second. What do you think will make your Rottweiler most happy? Is it a piece of juicy steak? A ball tossed across the yard? A pat on his favorite spot on his tummy? Regardless of what came to your mind, these are all rewards if your Rottweiler is eager to have them.

Don’t be fooled by the Rottweiler’s tough looks! Most of them are eager to please if you give them clear instructions using positive methods. No need to choke, tug, shock, kick, grab or alpha roll! These are outdated and even potentially dangerous methods that can trigger defensive aggression.

Not all rewards are necessarily tangible. For instance if you are heading outdoors and your Rottweiler manifests the desire to come out with you, the reward for asking him to sit prior to opening the door is the simple fact of being allowed out the door with you. For most dogs, a door unveiling an intriguing outdoor world of sights and smells, is a big reward per se, especially if it translates into a fun play session! These rewards are often referred to as ”life rewards”.

Training using rewards therefore does not mean you will be stuck in carrying treats with you every where, every time, all your life, even if your Rottweiler will certainly love that! Training positively does not translate in being permissive and spoiling dogs. In a good training program, treats are gradually weaned and given at random intervals, so to increase motivation and teach your Rottweiler that it must also work for the simple goal of pleasing you. And pleasing you can be equally rewarding!

If you pair the words ”good girl’’ or ”good boy’’ with a treat, your dog will learn to love those words, and later on, even if not always followed by a treat, those words will still be music to your dog’s ears!