Reward-based training

Reward-based training is the most effective and humane way of training your dog (or cat!). This type of training is used by RSPCA Victoria behaviourists and animal care teams with our shelter animals and we highly encourage you to adopt this method when training your own pets at home.

Why training is important

It’s really important to engage your pet in training. It is a form of enrichment and has a number of positive physical and mental benefits to keep your pooch happy and healthy. It helps build their confidence and improves the trust and bond between you and your pet.

What is reward-based training?

Reward based training is also commonly referred to as ‘force-free’ or ‘positive reinforcement’. It works by reinforcing your dog’s desirable behaviour with treats, affection, attention or praise. It also involves ignoring undesirable behaviour and immediately following up with a reward when they cease the behaviour or demonstrate the desirable one instead.

RSPCA Victoria does not recommend training methods or equipment that cause anxiety, fear, distress, pain, or injury. When a dog is fearful or stressed it makes it hard for them to learn. Confrontational training has been associated with higher levels of aggression and separation anxiety in dogs.

Reward-based training is enjoyable for the dog and positively enhances the relationship between the dog and handler. Socialisation, and reward-based training can often help you avoid behaviour-related problems in the future. Sadly, this is one of the most common reasons pet owners provide us when surrendering their animals.

If taking your dog or puppy to classes or a trainer, make sure they are ‘force free’ and use a reward-based training method during their sessions. For more advice on behaviourists, view our webpage on choosing the right dog trainer.

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