Yes, Positive Reinforcement Dog Training Does Work
Every single day, I’m asked whether or not positive reinforcement dog training works. While many pet owners purposely pursue a positive dog trainer, there are still doubts written across their face. This is very evident when working with reactive dogs; many pet owners just don’t trust the dog training technique.
As with anything, there are pros and cons, but you’ll notice very few cons with positive reinforcement dog training. When doubt creeps in, tell yourself to trust the process because positive dog training really works.
What is Positive Reinforcement Dog Training?
Positive reinforcement dog training is when you reward your dog for a specific behavior, so the behavior will happen more often. When a dog sits, and he gets a treat, he learns to sit more often. Positive reinforcement works even when pet owners don’t suspect it.
Positive Reinforcement Examples
If you open a crate door, while your dog is barking inside it, your dog learns barking means you’ll open the crate door. Begging is a good positive reinforcement example too. If you feed your dog while he sits next to your plate, he learns that sitting close to your plate makes food happen. Yup, this is positive reinforcement too!
Positive reinforcement works in the human world too. We work for paychecks—that’s our reward for working hard. Pats on the back, bonuses and hugs are human rewards too. Super yummy treats are easily great dog rewards because everyone loves food. Praise, pats, fun games, tidbits from your dinner plate, escaping a boring crate or moving away from a scary dog are great positive reinforcement examples for dogs too.
Pros and Cons of Positive Reinforcement Training
- Easy to do: You can’t make mistakes.; just reward behaviors you want to see more often.
- Fun for dog and pet owner: Positive reinforcement is fun because earning rewards is fun! Celebrating wins are much more fun than digesting mistakes.
- Extremely effective: Hands down, positive reinforcement works much faster than punishment-based dog training methods. Don’t believe me? Check out the latest research on teaching children. 🙂
- Can be done anywhere: Dog training sessions can happen anywhere; just grab food treats and go!
- You don’t need fancy equipment: Throw out choke chains, pinch collars and electronic collars. All you need are a handful of treats, a clicker and your dog! If you’re training your dog outside, attach a leash to your dog’s body harness.
RELATED: Clicker Training Game for Beginners
Cons (And Solutions)
- Treat dependency: Dog will only work for treats.
- Withholding treats is frustrating: In the beginning, this can happen.
- Again, this is a quick fix. Set a dog up for success and reward every single step toward a goal.
- If needed, take a few steps back and build until the desired behavior happens.
- What if you don’t have treats? Simple. Use praise, games and the happy dance to reward your dog for good behaviors.