Freddy, the Bichon Frise, was in fine form that Saturday at his weekly agility class, flying over jumps, king of the mountain on the A frame, and fearlessly diving into tunnels.
It was all cause for celebration, but you wouldn’t have known that from the look of his owner. She moved grimly, silently, except to bark out commands.
The first and only observation she made on his performance was to bark out a sharp “No!” when he jumped off the dog walk too soon. At that moment, Freddy unraveled and started zooming around in mad, nervous circles.
His owner threw up her hands and, as she led the little white dog off the floor, she asked the trainer what went wrong.
“When he was doing everything right, you paid no attention to him,” the trainer said. “Then you yelled at him when he made a mistake. You have to praise him more when he’s doing the right thing.”
In his second run, there were yays and good boys galore. Freddy navigated the course perfectly with the kind of glee that can be expressed only by a happy Bichon.
“I never realized what a difference it can make!” Freddy’s owner bubbled, as she hugged her little dog.
Just how important is praise in training a dog? And how do you know when you’ve got it right? Page 2