When your dog  is learning a new behavior, reward him every time he does the behavior.  This is called continuous reinforcement.

Once your dog has reliably learned the behavior, you want to switch to intermittent reinforcement,  in which you continue with praise, but gradually reduce the number of times he receives a treat for doing the desired behavior.

At first, reward him with the treat four out of every five times that he completes the desired behavior.  Over time, reward him three out of five times, then two out of five times, and so on, until you're only rewarding him occasionally.  

Continue to praise him EVERY TIME…although once your dog has learned the behavior, your praise can be less "effusive", such as a quiet but positive "Good Dog".

Use a variable schedule of reinforcement so that he doesn't "catch on" that he only has to respond every other time.  Your dog will soon learn  that if he keeps responding, eventually  he'll get what he wants…your praise an an occasional treat.

Caution!  Don't decrease the rewards too quickly!  You don't want your dog too become frustrated.

By understanding the essence of Positive Reinforcement Training (PRT), you'll see that you're not  forever bound to carry a pocketful of goodies.  Your dog will soon be working for your verbal praise, because he wants to please you and knows that, occasionally, he'll get a treat too!


Tomorrow, we'll talk about "Giving your dog a job to do"


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