To Reward or to punish? Let the veterinarians of Lachine explain!

Education according to veterinarians of Lachine.

We are always surprised that in 2014, many pet owners still quickly punish their animals but are reluctant to reward them.

It is even proven that when training a dog, cat or bird,  the rewards are much more effective than punishment.

It is even proven that when training a dog, cat or bird, the rewards are much more effective than punishment.

As if offering a reward was  “spoiling” your animal, much like you can spoil a  child. It is not! It is even proven that when training a dog, cat or bird,  the rewards are much more effective than punishment. Many questioned the type of reward that should be awarded: petting or treats, but all agree that we should not hesitate to reward the animal.

The veterinarians of Lachine ask the following question: when learning, is it possible to properly punish your pet? In case you are not sure how to punish, it is better not to do it, and simply to reward positive behavior.

Timing is  critical when it comes to rewards or punishments. Here’s an example. Suppose you have a new puppy and you train cleanliness. You go out with him outside, you tell him to do his business and by chance he runs. It was at that exact time that he should be rewarded: good dog, a hug or a treat, or better yet all three! The animal must associate the act that is asked of him, or any other desired behavior with the positive reinforcement of the reward. By cons, if your puppy has a small ‘accident’ in the house and you have not caught him in the act, simply ignore the incident. To be successful, it must be surprised, not scared, in the act. The intensity should be adequate without exaggeration. The veterinary of Lachine note that very few people use the correction properly. Any punishment should only be done if we can surprise the animal in the act (first 30 seconds of the beginning of the sequence of behavior). One must make a sound that will surprise and interrupt. Any punishment carried out later teaches the animal to hide before performing the behavior in question. The noise needs to be just enough to stop the behavior without terrifying the pet. When possible, make a noise that will surprise him without knowing where it came from.

If you can not surprise the animal each time he makes his misbehavior, the punishment does not work. The veterinarians of Lachine will give you another example to illustrate their point. We were all at least once, ticketed for speeding in our lives. And we were punished for that behavior. However, we must admit that we sometimes still exceed the speed limit allowed when we drive. What for? Just because we know we won’t get ticketed every time. If we would be punished whenever we exceeded the speed limit, it is likely that we would drive more carefully … So, when training your pet, use mostly positive reinforcement: reward desired behaviors and ignore the unwanted behavior.

By the way, during training, the veterinarians of Lachine explain that there is a simple technique to use the awards successfully and not to become a slave. This is also the main argument of people who are against the rewards. The golden rule is that in early learning a given a reward (it can be a caress, but we prefer a little tidbit of food  loved by the animal) whenever the animal does the behavior desired. Sitting still, etc. Once the animal has understood the command, you should start giving rewards randomly (half the time, 2 out of three, once every four events …) and in the long run, it prevents giving the reward mechanically.

You see, it’s simple. But if you need more advice, do not hesitate to talk with the veterinarians of Lachine! Until next time pet owners: punish little and reward much.

About the clinic: The Lachine Veterinary Clinic offers an unmatched and personalized service to pet owners from Lachine, LaSalle, Dorval and Pointe Claire, but also across the West Island of Montreal (West Island) and Laval, and has done so ,since 1982.
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