Reward-Based Training: What Do The Experts Think?

Do you dream about your pooch or kitty turning into a well-mannered, well-behaved pet?  Have you considered training your furry buddy, but aren’t sure which method is best?  One of the best-known training techniques is positive reinforcement.  You may have heard it referred to as reward-based training.  Well it works for us humans, so it should work for our four-legged companions, right?  Let’s see what the experts think:

The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB)

 These veterinary behaviorists have research to back them up, so they should know what they’re talking about.  And guess what?  They promote the use of positive reinforcement and negative punishment.  With positive reinforcement, you reward good behavior.  This increases the likelihood the behavior will occur again.  With negative punishment, you ignore bad behavior.  This decreases the likelihood the behavior will continue.  Neither method involves the use of physical pain or punishment.  Makes total sense to us.  (By the way, don’t confuse negative punishment with negative reinforcement, such as hitting and yelling).  

Victoria Stilwell

Victoria is one of the most recognized and respected dog trainers and a star of Animal Planet’s It’s Me or the Dog.  She’s also a passionate advocate for positive reinforcement dog training methods.  Her book Training Your Dog Positively teaches force-free training techniques.  

The Humane Society (HSUS)

This national animal protection organization advocates a “just say yes to training your dog with treats and praise.”  And it has a useful tip sheet to help you learn how to do this.  The tips cover everything from when to use positive reinforcement, to the types of rewards to use.  We like to give our dog a chew from the new line of Buffalo Range All Natural Buffalo Rawhide treats at the end of their training sessions as an extra reward.  Because a good doggie deserves a special treat such as these tasty, healthy and long-lasting chews.

Zak George

Zak is a YouTube star, Animal Planet personality and author.  And he believes that using loving and positive training methods will help pet parents “create a good relationship that lasts forever.”  Watch his video to find out why Zak thinks positive reinforcement is more effective than punishment.  

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)  

Another animal protection organization that supports training methods that incorporate “kindness and respect for both the pet and the guardian.”  They say that “humane training does not inflict unnecessary distress or discomfort on the pet.”  Instead, it makes “primary use of lures and rewards such as food, praise, petting, and play.”  We have to agree.  We personally respond positively to warm words and offers of our favorite snacks.

The American Association of Feline Practitioners

These vets who practice feline care say that “cats learn best through positive reinforcement.”  Favorite rewards for cats?  “Delicious treats, catnip, interactive play, petting and grooming.”

We’re convinced of the merits of reward-based training for pets.  How about you?  Do you have a success story you can share about using positive reinforcement to train your pet?  We’d love to hear about it in the comments section below.

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