Updated on December 18, 2022

You’ve finally decided to do something about your dog’s bad habits, right? You are in the correct location.

Your dog’s personality, the things that encourage them (food, praise, toys), and your own and your dog’s mood on any given day will all play a role in determining the training methods that prove most successful.

When it comes to the topic of how to effectively teach your dog, dog owners are far from unanimous in their beliefs. Positive reinforcement is widely acknowledged as one of the most effective dog training strategies now that researchers, trainers, and owners have a better grasp of the canine mind.

In this article, we will explain what positive reinforcement is, how to use it, and why it is so effective. There’s no doubt in our minds that you’ll soon have your dog sitting, staying, and heeling.


Motivating praise Dog training is a technique for teaching your pet to behave the way you want it to by rewarding good behaviour with treats. In general, dogs are more likely to engage in a behaviour again if they anticipate receiving a positive reinforcement, such as a nice food.

That’s why programmes based on praise and rewards tend to produce the best results. To train your dog to obey and follow rules without resorting to force, you must employ mental strategies.

Many trainers use a four-part structure for their training programmes:

When we encourage ourselves and others, good things happen.
Punitive learning: Negative events are resolved
Punitive action: The worst case scenario occurs
Having good things taken away is a form of negative punishment.
Allow me to elaborate a bit on them. Keep in mind that positive and negative here just signify “adding” and “taking away,” respectively, and not “good” and “bad.” In the same vein as an equation in mathematics.

We all know that rewarding a dog for good behaviour falls under the category of “positive reinforcement” (adding something to reinforce).

Dogs learn best when rewarded for good behaviour.

Dogs learn best when rewarded for good behaviour.
Alternately, you can use negative reinforcement, in which what your dog considers undesirable is removed in order to reinforce the positive. To use a dog training example, if you want your dog to sit, you may use negative reinforcement by pushing down on their rear end with your hand and releasing the pressure once they are in the desired position.

The reasoning behind this is that by making them happy after the pressure is off, they will be more apt to comply with future requests to sit immediately. Using relief as a reward in this form of coercive training is ineffective.

Negative punishment, on the other hand, entails withholding anything of value from your dog. If they misbehave, you might take away their favourite toy or even just turn your back on them when they’re bouncing all over you with enthusiasm.

When your dog jumps up at you, they are trying to grab your attention because they really want it. Negative punishment can be an effective complement to positive reward when used in this non-confrontational manner.

When your dog is misbehaving, you can use positive punishment techniques like shaking a can of coins, shouting, shocking them, or any combination of these. For a long time, this was what was meant by “asserting authority” over your dog through punishment.

These techniques have been discredited because they only result in your dog being afraid of you, which then makes them more likely to behave badly.


Your dog’s DNA, the experiences they’ve had during their socialisation phase, and even the food they’re consuming can all contribute to their eventual personality and behaviour. However, the most crucial aspect of training your dog is the time and effort you put into it.

Using positive reinforcement to train your dog doesn’t have to be hard, and neither does using a stern voice or physical force; all it takes is some time spent talking to your dog and developing a strong bond with him.

It’s not easy to exactly time your penalties, so your dog may misinterpret the reason for the punishment. For instance, during potty training, if you punish your dog for having an accident indoors, it may interpret that as a sign that it is never safe to use the restroom when you are nearby.

It’s the last thing you want, but they might keep having accidents when they’re home alone because you’ll never find out. Your dog learning to fear you is a symptom of a deeper problem, a failure to effectively communicate with one another.

Also, dogs that are already aggressive or fearful may become much more so as a result of any form of punishment.

By this logic, when you use positive reinforcement, you and your dog are on the same team and you do not have to establish yourself as the alpha. All the nice behaviours your dog exhibits will be reinforced as you teach it what is expected of it.

Recruit more people and involve the household in the effort. Training your dog is a wonderful method for you and your loved ones to spend quality time together with your canine companion.

Using reinforcement learning

Instructions for Implementing Reinforcement Learning
Through training, your dog’s brain stays stimulated even if they aren’t getting much physical exercise. This helps them expend their boundless energy in constructive ways rather than destructive ones, allowing you to have some peaceful time to yourself. That’s a win-win situation!



For positive behaviours to be reinforced, rewards need to be both substantial and engaging.

It’s easy to assume that any old dog treat will do, but does your pet actually get thrilled about it? Do they greet you with wagging tails and puppy dog eyes everytime you bring them out? If they aren’t, you might want to try a new brand or type of treat that your dog finds extremely satisfying.

They may be rewarded with a game of fetch, or with their favourite toy or with words of praise. It may come as a shock, but some canines aren’t really interested in kibble. If that describes your canine companion, a tennis ball could be the answer.

When we as owners gaze at our dogs, pet them, and talk to them, we are constantly influencing and reinforcing their behaviours.

Adjust your awards based on the circumstances. Whether it’s a tennis ball, a piece of chicken, or the sound of your praising voice, make a list of everything that gets your dog excited (you know, that high-pitched, cutesy voice we reserve for our furry friends).

Put the list in order of most to least rewarding, and use the higher-value treats when your dog is presented with difficult training obstacles or distracting surroundings, such as while practising recall in a busy dog park.

So when your dog comes coming back to you at the park, you can either reward them with a tasty piece of chicken or speak in a really joyful voice and jump around to play with them so they are overjoyed that they have chosen to come back to you.

Your incentive should be more desirable than your surroundings. Similarly, if your dog is hyperactive and never seems to relax, you should praise subdued actions with something less stimulating.

For more information on positive reinforcement dog training, please click here.

For more information on positive reinforcement dog training, please click here.
A calming touch and words of praise, for instance, may be all that’s needed. When things have calmed down, this is hardly the time to get out their favourite plaything, is it?

However, if your dog does not enjoy the reward you are giving it, it will not be motivated to continue displaying the desired behaviour and you will have to start over with your training. A pat on the head is a great illustration of this.

Many dogs actively dislike being patted on the head; if you choose to reward your dog with a head pat, the animal will learn to associate the desired behaviour with a punishing stimulus. Poisoning a cue is what happens here.

Basically, rewards can be made to suit your dog specifically; anything that makes your dog happy can be considered a reward.


It may take your dog a while to master some tricks and behaviours, while other commands may only take a few brief training sessions.

Therefore, you can employ a method called “shaping” for the ones that are more challenging for your dog to learn. Positive reinforcement training involves modifying behaviour by initially rewarding it when it is similar to the desired outcome and then gradually shifting reinforcement to the desired response.

When you’re trying to teach your dog to roll over, for instance, they probably won’t do it all the way on the first try. To “shape” their behaviour into a full roll over, you could entice them to lie on their side, then their back, and eventually all the way over with a reward. If you want to show off to your friends by having your dog perform a charming little trick, we have a comprehensive guide on teaching your dog to turn over.


Constantly encouraging your dog’s positive behaviours is especially important in the early stages of training. Your dog will have a great time exploring the world around it when let off the leash, as there are so many new and exciting things to see and smell.

It’s important to provide your dog with exciting rewards on the regular, so that your training sessions remain much more intriguing to him than the surrounding world, which is always trying to pull his attention away from you.

Bad behaviours (such rushing away from you to chase another dog) might be rewarded by rewards you have no say over if your rewards are boring or come too seldom (the chance to play with said dog). Your dog will learn that returning to you will not result in any positive reinforcement, therefore it is in everyone’s best interest to approach the other dog instead.

When your dog has shown some proficiency, you can reduce the frequency with which you reward good behaviour. A little fuss and a “good dog” will suffice after a while; you won’t need to reward your dog with a goodie every time it sits, lies down, walks nicely while on leash, etc.

However, it’s never a good idea to completely stop rewarding good behaviour with rewards because, well, life isn’t perfect. Randomly doling out tasty treats is always appreciated.


It’s crucial to time training sessions properly. If you’re training a dog, you shouldn’t waste time digging around in your pocket for a treat; your pet will become confused about what behaviour you’re attempting to reward if you take too long to provide the treat.

It’s possible that the opposite of the behaviour you’re trying to teach is being encouraged.

A clicker or’marker’ can be used in this situation to give your instruction more precision.

When your dog performs the desired behaviour, you can use a clicker or a marking word like “yes!” to let him know that he has succeeded and that a reward is on the way.


Our dogs are incredibly perceptive, but if you give them their treats too slowly or in the wrong location, they may become confused.

As an illustration, if you want to train your dog to sit, you should give them the treat while they are in the seated position. Your dog won’t be able to tell the difference between a reward for sitting and one for getting up and walking if it has to get up and walk over to collect it.


While training your dog can be a lot of fun, the process can quickly become tiresome and unpleasant if your dog consistently disobeys and refuses to pay attention to you.

Dogs are highly sensitive to their owners’ emotions and will not respond positively if they sense that you are becoming frustrated during positive reinforcement training.

Remember that it is easy to inadvertently reinforce undesirable actions. If your dog greets visitors at the door by jumping up, and they tell the dog to “go down!” while looking at the dog and pushing it down, you may be making the situation much worse than it really was.

Considering that most dogs thrive on human attention, this may be a positive experience for your pet. Even if you view this attention as bad, it is attention nonetheless.

Instead, your guest should ignore your dog completely until it is firmly planted on all four paws. If you ask your dog to sit whenever someone comes to the door, for example, they are less likely to jump up and greet the visitor. If they’re people-oriented, the attention they’ll receive for sitting still instead of jumping is reward enough.

In the context of teaching your dog to walk nicely on a leash, this can be seen in action. A short off-leash play session may be in order if they walk well without trying to rip your arm off.

For positive reinforcement training to be effective, you must first determine what truly brings joy to your dog.


One of the most effective methods of teaching a dog, positive reinforcement focuses on the things that bring your dog the most joy, making it more receptive to instruction and more likely to respond positively.

You’ll have a well-behaved dog, and they’ll get to experience lots of fun incentives.







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