We were browsing through the colorful blog of The Vet Society and stumbled upon a very important subject in the veterinary field, training to succeed.
When we talk about animal training, many people have different opinions and different methods. When it comes to training animals it is very important to understand the science behind it and its application.

woman training a dog

The most important concepts that need to be understood are command, reinforcer, timing and consistency.
If done properly, these concepts can lead to a very successful training and reliable behaviors.

When we want something to be done by the animal we make an action called “the cue” or “the aid”  in order to get the desired behavior. This command can be vocal, visual (hand gesture), or touch command. Do not forget that the command needs to be clear and consistent, always the same tone of voice or the same movement of hands. It is considered a mistake to use different tonality or a variety of words because this can confuse the animal and will never learn the command.
For example, “down” and “drop” may mean the same basic thing to us but the dog does not understand synonyms. We need to always use the same word for the desired command. You need to decide if it will be either down or drop when you want Fido to lay down. Consistency is key.

The reinforcer, synonymous with reward, it is used to get the animal motivated to execute the command. This is usually a treat (food or a snack) or a praised word, such as “good boy/girl”. This can be individually tailored for each individual dog. For example, training dogs can use a toy as a reinforcer, and for low energy dogs, the reinforcer can be food.  We need to find what motivates the individual dog.

Read the rest on this subject on The Vet Society blog and learn more on animal training.