Why you should always be a reward-centric owner

Punishment doesn't work

We always want to help our Jack Russell, but sometimes the breed can be quite naughty. We dread the messes caused by ripped-up toys, 'accidents' inside the house, and the occasional random barks at the top of his voice for no apparent reason.

You might be nodding your head at the above three examples! Your natural inclination might be to punish him for doing these things, for example you might shout at him, asking him why he did his business in the living room.

Well this traditional approach of negative feedback to his actions will have little effect on him stopping it, and most of the time it just confuses him.

You might disagree with that, and if so let me ask you a question. Has he stopped doing all those bad behaviours?

High levels of punishment actually have an adverse effect on good dog behaviour. And, causing your dog physical pain will cause him to associate pain with you. The evidence shows that positive reinforcement, and a focus on rewards, are more effective and make him better at learning throughout his life.

Jack Russell treat reward

MRI studies have shown that the canine brain is better wired to associate positive rewards with behaviour that should be repeated.

'Clicker training' has grown in popularity in recent years, and is effective because it uses almost entirely positive reinforcement for good dog behaviour. It works by aiding the connection between rewards and offerings of good behaviour by the dog.

You can learn more about the clicker technique here, and maybe try it yourself with this clicker that comes with a free training guide.

How can I use this information with my Jack Russell?

Consistently and promptly give rewards when training your new Jack Russell in return for good behaviour and he will very quickly want to be good, because he learns that that will get him lots of nice dog treats.

However, this does not mean that you should not try to correct bad behaviour. As we explained in our article on Jack Russell whining, your feedback to negative behaviours sometimes has to be an instantaneous response that causes him to associate an unpleasant reaction to that negative behaviour.

Don't overdo any negative feedback - always try to move on quickly, and next time make sure he's in a situation to do something good. Of course, if he's developed lots of bad habits and behaviours over his lifetime then it's wise to seek the advice of a professional dog trainer.

Be a reward-centric owner as much as possible and your Jack Russell will be better-behaved, smarter, and happier.

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