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5 Steps To Train Your Dog Using Positive Reinforcement

5 Steps To Train Your Dog Using Positive Reinforcement

Whether you have a new puppy, a new rescue dog, or are simply boarding an animal for a shelter, training your dog is a vital part of responsible pet ownership. Training dogs makes them behave in public, but also ensures the dog is attentive around strangers. While some try to train dogs by punishing them for failing to do a command, positive reinforcement training is the most effective way. Many people think training a dog is harder than it is. Simply by understanding how dogs perceive our actions, training can be easier, faster, and more effective. Following these five critical universal steps will make training your dog a breeze.

1. Illustrate Your Command

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    The first step in training any dog is to make it clear what you’re asking. Dogs don’t understand language inherently, so you need to illustrate to the dog what the command means. For example, if you’re asking your dog to sit, give the command, then gently nudge the dogs bottom to the ground. As silly as it sounds, it’s also usually helpful to have a second person go on their hands and knees and imitate what a dog would do when given that command. Give the command to the human (who illustrates it successfully) and give them a piece of fruit. Then, give the command to the dog, and the dog should catch on in a few tries.

    2. Show Off The Treat

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      The next step in training a dog using positive reinforcement, is to make it clear that the dog will receive a treat. Use something the dog loves, and something the dog doesn’t have every day. In order for the dog to get excited about training, it needs to be excited about the treat. When you give the command, make the treat very clear to your dog. As hard as it is, don’t give in to puppy dog eyes and give the treat when the dog hasn’t done the command. 

      3. Get Excited

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        As soon as your dog understands what you’re asking them to do, get overwhelmingly excited the first few times the dog is successful. It’s more than ok to go a pretty crazy over your adorable little pup. If you make training rewards the most enjoyable ones, your dog will be eager to complete new commands. Training with positive reinforcement is only successful if you make the reinforcement extraordinarily positive. Rub their head, give them treats, and shower your pup with love, and your dog will soon understand the learning process.

        4. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

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          The next step in training a dog with positive reinforcement is to repeat the command over and over. Still reward with positive reinforcement, but the dog needs to hear this new word enough times to instantly recognize it. Repeating the command is also crucial to let the dog know they will be rewarded every time. When your dog starts doing the command immediately after you give it, you’re on the right track.

          5. Gradually Decrease Attention

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            After the first 10 or 15 times, slowly decrease your enthusiasm every time your dog successfully completes the command. It’s okay to give your dog a treat still, but eventually get to the point where you’re giving a forceful “good boy/girl”. Still let your dog know that they’re doing an excellent job, just make it less of a celebration. After a while, it will be clear that when you give the command, it is an expectation. Once your dog has mastered the first command, start from the beginning again with a new one. In no time at all, your new puppy will be more obedient then Lassie.

            Featured photo credit: Latteda via flickr.com

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            Alicia Prince

            A writer, filmmaker, and artist who shares about lifestyle tips and inspirations on Lifehack.

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            Last Updated on January 21, 2020

            The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

            The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

            Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

            your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

              Why You Need a Vision

              Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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              How to Create Your Life Vision

              Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

              What Do You Want?

              The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

              It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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              Some tips to guide you:

              • Remember to ask why you want certain things
              • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
              • Give yourself permission to dream.
              • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
              • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

              Some questions to start your exploration:

              • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
              • What would you like to have more of in your life?
              • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
              • What are your secret passions and dreams?
              • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
              • What do you want your relationships to be like?
              • What qualities would you like to develop?
              • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
              • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
              • What would you most like to accomplish?
              • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

              It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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              What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

              Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

              A few prompts to get you started:

              • What will you have accomplished already?
              • How will you feel about yourself?
              • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
              • What does your ideal day look like?
              • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
              • What would you be doing?
              • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
              • How are you dressed?
              • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
              • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
              • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

              It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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              Plan Backwards

              It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

              • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
              • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
              • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
              • What important actions would you have had to take?
              • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
              • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
              • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
              • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
              • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

              Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

              It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

              Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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