Positive Reinforcement Training for Dogs

Positive Reinforcement Training for Dogs

Training a dog isn’t always easy, but it’s necessary. At K9U Chicago, we believe that positive reinforcement training for dogs is the best way to encourage desired behaviors.

If you’re new to dog training, we’re going to break down this successful method of dog training, how to do it at home, and how K9U can help you and your dog achieve behavioral balance.

Training That Builds Confidence

Positive reinforcement training for dogs is minimally disruptive. For instance, negative reinforcement, which involves taking something away to achieve the desired behavior can be unpleasant.Positive reinforcement, on the other hand, can make training an enjoyable experience for both you and your dog.

The idea is: if you give your dog a reward when they respond in a desirable way to you or if they just do a behavior you want to encourage, that will lead to your dog repeating the behavior.

For example, if your puppy successfully goes to the bathroom outside, you give them a treat. That will likely lead to them repeating the behavior because they expect more treats. If you continue to do this until they are fully relieving themselves in the appropriate place, you can begin to remove the reward.

The Hierarchy of Rewards

Some dogs respond to praise as a reward. This is great because there’s unlimited praise to give, and it costs nothing for you! However, most dogs need some more encouragement, especially for more difficult behaviors or tasks. And where you are can influence how valuable rewards are.

The American Kennel Club breaks down the hierarchy of rewards like so:

  • “At home with few distractions use low value: kibble, carrots, ice cubes, green beans, or dry biscuits.
  • In your yard use medium value: commercial training treats or meaty-type treats.
  • At the park use high value treats, like premium chewy, soft dog treats with great flavors/smells such as peanut butter, salmon, and chicken.”

If you use these tips, it can make choosing your rewards easy.

Reward-based Training Is Easier Than You Think

Positive reinforcement training for dogs is an easy way to motivate your pet to do what you need them to. If you’re slow, consistent, and (most of all) patient, you’ll see results.

Dogs and people thrive when they cooperate. Think of positive reinforcement as just that: both of you working together to reach the desired outcome. Both of you will learn from it as it gives you both power through communication.

Things can get tricky when it’s not clear why your dog is doing a negative behavior. That will involve some investigative action on your part while, again, exercising some patience. Once there’s a clear reason for the behavior, there’s a clear path to its resolution. However, if you’re finding the task to be beyond your control, come on into our Basic Obedience Training Classes where you and your dog will learn the steps to using positive reinforcement.

Why Does Positive Reinforcement Work?  

It’s all backed by science! Positive reinforcement is also called operant conditioning. This is when a reward or punishment is added or removed to influence the frequency of a specific behavior. It works on dogs AND people. However, it didn’t really get popular for training dogs until about 30 years ago.

In the past, training methods were punishment based. Now, training is fun and has better outcomes. In addition to that, it helps dogs and their handlers create even stronger bonds.

Forming Stronger Bonds with Positive Reinforcement Training for Dogs

As a handler and dog owner, your behavior matters just as much as that of your pup. If you want a mutually respectful relationship, your ability to be consistent, kind and patient will create an unbreakable connection.

When you follow through on your rewards, you’re creating trust. Your dog will count on you to reward them when they do what you need them to do at that moment.

Look to K9U Chicago for Guidance

Struggling to master certain behaviors with your dog? Need some extra guidance? K9U offers a variety of classes that utilize positive reinforcement training for dogs. We have a full menu of training courses that nurture and grow your relationship with your dog.