I was visiting this little guy last night at a friend’s house. He is a puppy Silky Terrier. I love watching how quick the learning curve is when you turn play into a lesson. When Sydney would sit, I did fun things with him for a couple minutes. Then I stopped and waited for him to sit again, and guess what, play resumed! All it took was a few repetitions to build in his mind that association between the behavior of sitting and its consequence, which was awesome play. That is what puppy training with positive reinforcement is all about.
Learning is really that simple. Constantly we are learning from the consequences of our behaviors, and so are our pets. If those consequences are of value to the animal, then the behaviors are going to be repeated. And guess what another benefit is to teaching in this way? Your learner will also come to associate you with those positive outcomes.
When you understand that, you realize that you don’t need to control your pet in order to affect behavior change. In fact, controlling your pet has the potential of causing more negative ramifications than positive. Instead focus on controlling the consequences so as to give lots of value to the behavior you want to see and no value for the behavior you do not want to see.
Sydney had absolutely no idea he was in class. He only knew he was having fun and he wanted to be near me because he also learned to predict being near me meant great things would happen.