The Pitfalls of Positive Motivation for Boxers’ Upbringing

It sounds lovely: a dog gets a command, it does it and gets a treat or a reward for that. It won’t end with one moment in the perfect case and it will become the basic idea of a whole training for a dog that will become an obedient pet using positive motivation. But what should you do if this kind of upbringing doesn’t work? And is positive motivation suitable for any breeds, for example also for temperament Boxers?

Rewards as Motivation

The basic principle of positive motivation is the presupposition that after giving instructions for a task or a command the dog understands it will be rewarded for it in one of many ways. Besides a treat, options also include caressing or praising. The tasks should be very easy and doable at first so the dog isn’t demotivated from not fulfilling them and it may be more difficult over some time. The result of the whole process should be a well behaving dog that knows what it can or cannot do. And of course, the whole training should influence the relationship of the dog and its owner and the relationship between them should be harmonious and based on mutual trust.

 

It depends on the dog’s nature

The dog should know what I expect it to do and what it will get for it. This is not only a treat, but also a smile and a sign of satisfaction from my side. Our relationship should be on the level where it cares about me and appreciates these signs.” comments breeder Michaela Martinů on positive motivation. However, she adds that some breeds may be less suitable for this kind of training. Boxers may serve as an example as they are often stubborn.

 

Consistency Is Necessary

A necessary part of a successful training using positive motivation is consistency and many owners often forget about that. This may lead to many undesired situations and how serious they are differs depending on the size and the breed of a dog. When large breeds especially are not trained consistently enough and their upbringing is based mainly on positive motivation, they may, in some cases, even bother other people and pets and their owners may not realize that.

 

Boxers Need Strict Rules

In the past, “a carrot and stick” approach was used and these days it often ends up with “a carrot and carrot” and that might not work with stubborn Boxers at all times, especially when the training is not particularly consistent. However, it should always hold true that if I want a dog to do something I need to clearly explain it. Motivation is very important for everything we want to do with a dog.” says Martinů.

 

This agrees with the training based on positive approach; however, Michaela Martinů differentiates between several types depending on what discipline she wants to do. “Most often, motivation lies in balls, fetch sticks and treats. For defence, a decoy is the motivation, for rescue skills it’s a whistling or pulling toy and for tracking it’s a treat” describes the breeder.

 

Fun Is Crucial

The very basis of any kind of training, including the positive approach that requires great consistency, is fun. However, it needs to have suitable rules so there isn’t any undesired development. “Boxers are dogs that like any kind of fun and if they have clear explanation of the training, the biggest motivation for them is playing with their owner. If a Boxer doesn’t understand the training, it makes fun of the owner. Fun is therefore always present when training Boxers but it’s only up to us how we behave and if the dog is having fun with us or it makes fun of us,” concludes the breeder.

 

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