| Michaela Fisher

Dog Training with Positive Reinforcement

Chances are if you own a dog, you’ve trained a dog. Tricks like sit, shake, and lie down are all very commonly taught to dogs. Other skills like “leave it”, and being able to recall are incredibly important tools in an owner’s toolbelt. A dog that will come when called rather than run into the street, and drop something potentially poisonous rather than eating it, is a dog that will give their owner less grey hairs.  A well trained dog is a safe dog!

But how do we best train our dogs? That is an area that some owners disagree on. Here at Bedtime4Dogs we support positive reinforcement as the primary tool for training dogs. Positive reinforcement refers to the introduction of a desirable or pleasant stimulus after a behavior is presented. For example, if you call your dog’s name and they look at you, you immediately give them their favorite dog biscuit. The behavior, looking at you, is immediately rewarded with a pleasant stimulus, in this case food.

The pleasant stimulus does not have to be food however. If your dog is particularly play motivated, his or her favorite toy can be a reward for offering the correct behavior. Ask your dog to “leave it” and stop chasing the squirrel, and if he does give him a rousing game of tug as a reward!  

Alternatively some dogs may really appreciate affection as a reward, whether verbal or some good old belly rubs!

According to the Humane Society, one of the keys with positive reinforcement is timing. The organization notes, “The reward must occur immediately (within seconds) of the desired behavior, or your pet may not associate it with the proper action.” Additionally, no matter what kind of training philosophy you use, be sure to keep your training sessions short. Science has shown that frequent but shorter lessons leads to better learning for dogs (and people too!).

Positive reinforcement is a wonderful training technique because it doesn’t rely on fear or intimidation to train your dog. Our dogs are our companions, and positive reinforcement helps us treat them as the wonderful friends they are!