How to Train a Dog for Positive Reinforcement?


1 Comment

What is Positive Reinforcement?

You may have heard the term “positive reinforcement” and some descriptions of what it means. This term has two meanings: It is a process that helps all pets how to learn new skills and is also used to find a group of trainers who use positive reinforcement as their main method of training.

Compared with other methods, positive reinforcement strengthens behavior, builds trusting relationships between pet owners and their other animal companions, and protects the behavioral health of pets.

Simply put, reinforcement is a process that strengthens a behavior. There are two types of reinforcement Positive Reinforcement and Negative Reinforcement.

1: Positive Reinforcement

Reinforcement means to make something stronger. The “positive” in positive reinforcement doesn’t mean “good.” It means “added.” When using this method to train a pup, you add something immediately after the behavior that will strengthen that behavior throughout the dog’s training. The thing we add is typically something the dog likes or wants, like a treat or a belly rub.

The pet also decides what has a reinforcing effect and what does not. For example, a dog that just ate a full meal might not find food as reinforcing as access to the outside or play to burn off the energy from their meal. On the other hand, a dog that has been exercising for an hour and has not been fed in several hours may find food highly reinforcing.

If you are training your dog and the desired behavior is not happening. Then you are not successfully using positive reinforcement for your pet. “Positive reinforcement doesn’t work” is a statement that isn’t actually true. It is more accurate to say that “positive reinforcement has not occurred,” which means there is something wrong with the execution.

How Do You Use Positive Reinforcement?

Markers are also helpful tools. Clickers are one of the more popular markers used in training for pets and use in equine or horses. They help communicate to your pet exactly what they did to earn the reinforcer. It’s used to mark the exact moment the dog has completed the task and right before the positive reinforcer is delivered. For example, if you ask your dog to sit, wait for the moment your dog’s bottom contacts the floor and then immediately use the marker to “mark” that moment. Then deliver the treat. Working with a certified professional trainer can help get you clicking in no time.

Tips for Using Positive Reinforcement:

Be sure you are actually using it:

Track your training so you know that what you are working on is getting better. That is, when you ask your dog to sit, are they doing it immediately every time you ask?

Training environments:

Ensure there is very little distraction when practicing a new behavior with your dog.

Select your reinforcers with care:

In a structured session, use something you know will be satisfying to your dog. Remember, they decide what is reinforcing and what is not.

Use a marker:

Marking the behavior functions as a secondary reinforcer as long as the marker—clicker or word—is paired with the primary reinforcer.

Sessions should be short and fun:

Select one skill, work on it for 5 minutes, add verbal praise to your primary reinforcer, take breaks, and end the session while the dog is still enjoying it.

2: Negative Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement means adding something immediately after a behavior giving some type of behavior by your pet and negative reinforcement means taking something away immediately after the behavior occurs. With negative reinforcement, the dog is taken away or removed is usually something does not find pleasant and would like to avoid. For example, if there is something happening the dog thinks is scary, like a person running toward them or trying to pet them, they give a response and may snap at them. If the scary thing stops or goes away, then snapping may have been negatively reinforced.

Negative reinforcement means a complex component of learning, which also leads to similar confusion. “Negative” does not mean something bad; It means “subtracted.” Positive and negative reinforcement are similar because they both related strengthen behavior.

It is often confused with punishment, and when used traditionally it is not a humane way to train your pet. That’s because they must be confronted with something they want to avoid something they perceive as painful, scary, intimidating, or threatening. The minute a person adds something negative to a pet’s environment, there is fallout. Three major fallouts of using negative reinforcement are:

  • Creating a negative conditioned emotional response
  • Increasing fear, anxiety, and stress
  • Eroding trust with the handler



Use a dynamic headline element to output the post author description. You can also use a dynamic image element to output the author's avatar on the right.

1 thought on “How to Train a Dog for Positive Reinforcement?”

Leave a Comment

Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00