What is Positive Reinforcement?

The dolphin gets a fish for doing a trick. The worker gets a paycheck for working. The dog gets a piece of chicken for returning when called. The cat gets comfort from sleeping on the bed. The child gets dessert for eating her vegetables. What is rewarded will be repeated.

Positive Reinforcement Dog Training uses rewards such as treats, praise, toys, etc. to reinforce desirable behaviors and uses management to remove rewards from undesirable behaviors. Over time, positive reinforcement dog training serves as a humane and effective communication tool that will strengthen your relationship with your dog.

Advantages Of Using Positive Reinforcement:

  •   Positive reinforcement is at the core of learning since it teaches dogs how to earn rewards through their good behavior i.e. what behaviors will be rewarded.
  •   Positive Reinforcement builds passive control in a headstrong dog, by motivating him to cooperate, even off-leash. This is a wonderful training technique for high-energy and high-drive dogs.
  •   Positive reinforcement training builds confidence in a shy or fearful dog.
  •   Clicker-type Positive Reinforcement training increases a dog’s problem-solving ability.
  •   The more time you put in, the more success you’ll enjoy, but at the same time, keep training sessions short 15-minute sessions.
  •   End on a high note every time!
  •   Use a normal, even quiet voice when training. Your communication should be positive.
  •   Don’t get frustrated—we hear a lot of folks saying “my dog is stubborn, out of control, and driving me crazy!” Try to reframe your view of your dog. Say to yourself: “My dog is determined, energetic, and full of personality.” Take advantage of these drives during training and teach your dog how to win the rewards he or she wants!
  •   Say your commands once.
  •   In time you will become very attuned to your dog and vice, versa, and your bond will grow and develop in ways you never imagined!

Be generous with your food rewards. However, make sure your treats are small in size (a little goes a long way.) See our post on Food Rewards here.


  •   Make sure to reinforce behaviors that you like and want to increase. Ignore the behaviors that you want to decrease.
  •   Make sure your dog loves the type of reinforcement that you are using.
  •   Keep your sessions short and interesting. Always end on a positive note!
  •   Use a bridge — a word or sound that means “You’re Right, a Treat is Coming!” — At a split second your dog does what you want. Yes! or a clicker are examples of a good bridge.
  •   Use a lure — it allows you to show your dog what to do without physically touching, forcing, or using the leash to push or pull him into position.
  •   Make sure to phase out the lure as soon as possible.
  •   Train your dog to target your hand…more about that later!
  •   Decide on a release word. Examples of release words are “Okay”, “All Done”, and “Break” to signal that the dog is allowed to move from the position or activity in which he was engaged.