Tips to Train Your Dog With Positive Reinforcement Dog Training

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where your dog just won’t listen no matter how many times you repeat his name or what hand signals you use? Perhaps it’s time for a change in tactics and the time to find out if positive reinforcement is the answer to your problems.

Positive reinforcement dog training has a lot of advantages over the traditional method of Negative Reinforcement. The first advantage is that your dog will be much more motivated to learn how to behave when rewards are involved. Also, if you ever need to eliminate rewards, your dog will still continue to behave well due to the habits it’ll have established beforehand.

So before you train your dog with rewards, here are some crucial tips you need to follow in order to teach the behaviors effectively.  

What Is Positive Reinforcement Dog Training

Like Adrienne Farricelli from the brain training for dogs book used to say the concept of positive reinforcement dog training is becoming more popular among many professional dog trainers and veterinarians. This type of training approach is an excellent way for people to encourage their dogs in positive ways without the use of harsh punishments. 

This approach includes rewarding your pet with treats, toys, praise and physical affection after they do something good. This type of training aims to build healthy relationships between humans and their pets by encouraging desired behaviors rather than punishing undesired ones.

Difference Between Positive and Negative Reinforcement Dog Training?

Positive reinforcement is a type of dog training that rewards a dog for behaving the way you want them to. It’s based on the idea that animals will repeat an action that led to a pleasurable experience.

Negative reinforcement in dog training is defined as any type of pain or unpleasant stimulus that the trainer may apply at any time following the performance of an undesired behavior. Examples include:

  • Administering a leash jerk when your dog pulls. 
  • Yelling at your dog when they are refusing to ‘’come’’ to you when called. 
  • Administering a shock collar for barking.
  • Take away things that the dog likes and enjoys. 

Dogs naturally avoid uncomfortable situations and quickly learn what behaviors lead to these sensations being removed.

Positive reinforcement training relies on an animal’s natural inclinations. This style is often much more effective than telling them not to do something or imposing punishment for a behavior you don’t want to be repeated.

Some people choose to train their dogs with positive reinforcement because there are cases where negative reinforcement can be dangerous. For example, negative reinforcement can cause aggressive behavior in dogs like scratching and biting due to their need to get what they want even if it’s hurting someone else in order to get it, which is not usually what owners want from their pets.

Process for Effectively Incorporating Positive Reinforcement

Find Out What Your Dog Likes And Is Willing To Work For.

All dogs can be trained, but it is vital that you find out what motivates your dog and is willing to work for it. Take an individual approach and try a few different things every day until you see if there is something that works for your dog’s personality. For Example:

Have a variety of different treats available each day, and choose one or two that your dog seems to be interested in the most, gradually expanding from there. 

Play with your dogs by teaching them engaging games where they can interact with you in a positive fashion, such as fetching a toy or tug-of-war (preferably using toy-safety features). 

You could also teach tricks that can be rewarding yet more time consuming but worth the challenge!

If you’ve picked the wrong reward and your dog doesn’t like it, it can affect the results drastically as your dog will fail to repeat the desired behavior correctly.  

Most dogs are likely to be food-motivated, implying if your dog is the same, make sure to keep these in mind:

  • Whatever the type of food you choose, it needs to be safe for your pet.
  • To avoid weight gain, make sure to cut down a small amount of food they have during meals.
  • The treats should be pea-sized and soft, as they will eat them quickly and look for more.
  • While rewarding a treat, make sure you combine it with praise, such as “good dog” or anything like that, in a cheering voice.  

Get The Whole Family Involved

One of the most important things to keep in mind while positive reinforcement dog training is to get everyone in the family involved.   

It is a common misconception that training a family pet is just the responsibility of the dog’s owner. In reality, every member of the family should be involved in training their dog to promote better behavior and an overall happier home environment.

The basic idea is to get the whole family involved in the training of the dog. This will help curb some of the issues that often arise from single person training.

4 Ways To Include The Whole Family In Dog Training: 

  1. Ensure all members know what commands to give. 
  2. Share ownership of each task with other family members, like feeding and giving water to your pet. 
  3. Take turns walking your dog or even going on walks as a family when appropriate. 
  4. Get everyone involved by asking them for feedback about your technique while training.

Benefits of Training the Whole Family: 

  1. Positive reinforcement techniques will help your dog become a well-behaved member of the family. 
  2. For younger children in the family, this is a great way to teach them responsibility and can lead to rewarding moments, like when they are able to assist you with training.
  3. Asking everyone in the house for feedback and input into training is a great way to promote unity among family members. 
  4. Depending on your dog’s breed and age, it may be safer for everyone if they are around while you train them, so they know how to react if needed.

Timing is Crucial

Timing while Positive reinforcement dog training is essential. If your reward occurs too long after the behavior, your dog will not associate it with the right action. For instance, if you have your dog ‘’sit’’ but then reward them after they’ve already stood back up, they’ll think that standing is what you wanted them to do in that situation and will stop doing it!

For this reason, positive reinforcement should be done as quickly as possible while also being given consistently with no mistakes in timing or methods.

Training Sessions Need To Be Brief And Stimulating.

Keeping the dog training session short and fun will increase the likelihood that your dog will get involved in training and learn. This is because dogs are more likely to associate a positive experience with learning and training when they are engaged in those activities for a shorter period of time. The more engaged your dog is, the better chance you have of having success with your dog. 

Consistency is Important  

Consistency is Important while training your dog. Some days you will want to reinforce the desired behavior, and other days you might be more interested in curbing or changing the undesired behavior. On these different types of training days, your consistency will be vital in teaching your dog what is expected.

Conclusion

Positive reinforcement is the best way to train a dog, be it for obedience or behavior issues. This method of training is a tried and true way to raise a well-behaved dog. It’s as simple as rewarding the behaviors you like and ignoring the behaviors you don’t. Then, with encouragement and praise, you are helping your canine companion to understand the rules. 

Also, if you’re finding it hard to train your dog with positive reinforcement methods and looking for certified trainers who use positive reinforcement training methods, I suggest you check this out. 

 

Tim Hanson (70)

Contributing writer at Preferable Pups!