Training Your Puppy With Positive Reinforcement Training Your Puppy With Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is simply rewarding your puppy with food, praise, toys or attention right after he performs the intended behavior (e.g. sitting). By training your puppy with positive reinforcement, you are increasing the likelihood of the behavior occurring again. Food is an effective reward because it is quick and easy. It works, is easy to use, and does lesser harm than the alternative training; by punishment.

As mentioned, food is positively reinforcing and therefore is a valuable training tool. To properly use food, the trainer must establish the behavior to the point that the puppy understands what behavior he must perform on its own in order to earn reinforcement, and then, the trainer must quickly begin weaning away the food as discussed above. Because food is so successful in getting behavior, many trainers become too dependent on it and do not reduce and eliminate it soon enough. Thus, puppies can learn to only respond when food is present.

Rewarding your puppy for good behavior sounds pretty simple, and it is! However, to practice the technique effectively, you need to follow some basic guidelines.

1) Timing

Correct timing is essential when using positive reinforcement. Reward your puppy immediately after a correct action; within seconds or your pet may not associate it with the proper action. If you have your puppy sit but reward him after he’s stood back up, he’ll think he’s being rewarded for standing up. Using a clicker to mark the correct behavior can improve your timing and also help your puppy understand the connection between the correct behavior and the treat.

2) Keep it short

Puppies don’t understand sentences. Keep commands short and uncomplicated. The most commonly used puppy commands are “sit”, “stay”, “down”, “come”, “heel” and “leave it”

3) Consistency is key

Everyone in the family should use the same commands when training your puppy.  Hearing differing variations of commands could confuse your puppy. It might help to post a list of commands where everyone can become familiar with them.

Consistency also means always rewarding the desired behavior and never rewarding undesired behavior.

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2 thoughts on “Training Your Puppy With Positive Reinforcement”

  1. This is such an important information: positive reinforcement instead of punishment. Only this will create a good relationship with yourself and your dog! I still see so many people beat their dogs, even a long time after the fact. As you name it right: the poor creatures are not like humans. When reward (or punishment) arrives too late they have no idea why and cannot connect it with anything. This can never improve their behavior!

    • Hello Heidi,

      Thanks very much for looking at my website and for your comments! I really appreciate it very much!



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