Positive reinforcement training techniques are crucial to success in a veterinary rehabilitation program.
Positive reinforcement means rewarding both efforts and successful attempts to perform an exercise or activity, while also being very mindful NOT to reward the wrong behaviour.
Positive reinforcement is the ‘pay-off’ for your dog or cat.
Several of the rehabilitation exercises will be challenging or difficult for your pet, and thus they need encouragement.
Food reward is usually sufficient.
For the very few patients that are not at all food motivated, then toys, and games or owner reward may be the next best options.
Remember to reward the right effort immediately.
We can shape a pet to complete amazing feats of balance or complicated exercises if we use the principle of immediate reward for the right behaviour and ignore all the ‘wrong’ behaviour or attempts. Dogs quickly learn how to get the chicken! And cats will too…if they want to.