Praising your pup: Is there a “best” way?

Steady with Style, from Martha Greenlee
Steady with Style, from Martha Greenlee

Praise isn’t something you can do wrong – or at least that’s what I thought. But one afternoon at Woodcock Haven Kennels, ace pointing dog trainer Al Ladd used a very personal demo to show me the right way to say “good boy”.

After I had whoed up my pointer on a planted pigeon and stroked her back up and down with praise, Al came up to me and did the same thing. Then he paused, put his hand on my arm, and calmy said “nice job.”

“See how one way gets you all worked up? And the other keeps you calm?”

I did.

In her piece Praise, Martha Greenlee points out the same thing and explains why calm praise is the better way to go.

Praise, from Martha Greenlee’s Steady with Style

“Praise is one type of reward you use to train a dog. Food treats, tossing a ball and an excited voice are examples of other types of rewards. Trainers who compete in dogs sports such as obedience, agility and tracking use a variety of rewards to let the dog know he did what the trainer asked. However, training a pointing dog is different. These dogs are bred with a strong desire to find birds, so finding birds is already a powerful reward, and it gets them excited.

The key to training a pointing dog is to give praise as a reward when your dog does what you asked. Unlike most rewards, praise can be given in ways that don’t increase your dog’s level of excitement. The calmer you can keep your dog around birds, the less pressure you will need to redirect his focus back to training….”

Read the entire piece here.

%d bloggers like this: