Pet Training Tips from CPT

Mark Spivak- Off Leash Heeling

Excellent pet training tips are as simple as our initials- CPT!


C- stands for Consistency.

Consistency more quickly and more effectively teaches commands, encourages appropriate behaviors, and discourages bad habits. In contrast, inconsistency confuses your pet or teaches him that rules do not always apply.

When first exposing your dog to a new command, praise verbally and reward with a treat or toy each time he performs properly. As a result, your dog will more quickly understand the command word and perform with greater motivation. Consistent reinforcement develops a significantly positive imprint associated with the completion of the behavior. Over time, due to the enthusiasm created by the imprint, you can diminish the frequency of food rewards. Your dog will perform simply because he enjoys participating.

Similarly, if you want your dog to stop raiding the trash, you need to prevent him from receiving access to the trash and/or “punish” him every time he performs the undesirable behavior. To break a bad habit, you need to passively prevent continuance of the present habit and/or create a perception that the present behavior is unpleasant. Otherwise, your dog will continue the habit, because after all, he often finds yummy things in the trash. So, from his perspective, why should he stop, unless he consistently fails to receive fulfillment.

P- stands for Positive Reinforcement.

B.F. Skinner, the innovator behind operant conditioning theory, found that positive reinforcement teaches behaviors far more quickly and more indelibly than punishment. Food, toys, and praise either alone or in combination are the reinforcers most commonly used in dog training. Determine the reinforcer(s) most appreciated by your dog and you will already have a huge head start in training him to become a well-behaved pet.

T- stands for Timing.

Animal behavioral researchers have found that rewarding or punishing a dog more than three seconds post the completion of a behavior has a negligible effect. Furthermore, rewarding or punishing more than one second post the completion of a behavior reduces the efficacy of behavior modification up to seventy percent. Thus, prompt timing is essential to maximize training productivity. Optimally, you should communicate a reward or punishment either while a behavior is occurring or immediately thereafter.

In summary, reward consistently, reward positively, and reward promptly to create a well trained dog. If you desire professional assistance, please contact CPT either by phone (404-236-2150) or by e-mail via the Contact link at the top right of this web page.  A trained dog is a happy dog and belongs to a happy owner. CPT’s elite professionals have trained the pets of over 50,000 Atlanta families. We would love to add you and your dog to our list of satisfied clients.


© Copyright Mark Spivak and Comprehensive Pet Therapy, Inc., March 2006, Revised February 2014.  All rights reserved.

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