Put simply, positive reinforcement means training with rewards and giving your dog something they really want and like when they’re behaving in a way that you like, so that they will be more likely to behave in this way again!
Positive reinforcement training uses a reward (treats, praise, toys, anything the dog finds rewarding) for desired behaviours. Because the reward makes them more likely to repeat the behaviour, positive reinforcement is one of your most powerful tools for shaping or changing your dog’s behaviour.
Let’s put it this way – every time you use positive reinforcement, it’s like adding money to your dog relationship piggy bank. When you punish by shouting at the dog or physically pulling or hitting a dog, it takes money out.
If you’re using punishment as your primary training method, at the end of the day, your dog relationship piggy bank will be empty, and your dog will be fearful. Dogs that lack confidence or are scared are more likely to act out aggressively.
Training with Rewards
Training with rewards is the best way to encourage your dog to behave as you would like on a day-day basis.
Treats are a great way to motivate most dogs. Go for soft treats you can easily break into small, pea-sized nibbles. Besides commercial dog treats or even kibble, pieces of chicken breast, hot dogs, and cheese work well, too.
Make it fun
Positive reinforcement training can be really fun for both you and your dog. But if your dog doesn’t feel up to it, don’t force it. Never force your dog to do something or drag them on a leash. If your dog isn’t cooperating, even with treats around, that’s a sign that it isn’t a good time to train, or your dog or puppy might not be feeling comfortable or may even be ill.
Reward based training can help build confidence and encourage dogs to think for themselves. But remember that dogs live in the moment, so your response to good behaviour or a good reaction should be immediate. This can include both treats and affection and should be used whenever your dog does something that you want them to do.
The goal is to get your dog to realize that good things come when she obeys you. Because of that, you should make training short, fun, and positive – ideally ending on a good note.
Weaning from treats
Over time you should wean your dog off of treats but continue to offer praise and affection. Eventually, your dog will forget about the treats and do what you want just to please you – in other words – you are the treat!