positive reinforcement dog training techniques

Positive reinforcement, when done correctly, is a great training technique for your dog.

It is similar to parent or grandparents offering their children money for better grades or keeping their room clean. Using a reward system for good behavior urges the child to do it again.

*Disclaimer: The overall training process should be done by people who know what they are doing. If you want to train your puppy on your own, you should be well informed before you begin. The following online program will teach you a ton of useful methods, and we highly recommend it. It’s the training method we use for our own puppies as well.

If you like, you can get the cheat sheet of this post here. Thanks!

What is positive Reinforcement training?

Each time your dog gets praise or a treat for pleasing you, your fella wants to do it again.

Think back to when you were young and your parents rewarded your good behavior; paying you for cleaning your room or each A on your report card. It made you want to do it again.

While dogs are not humans, the positive reinforcement works the same way with a different reward. Instead of cash, the reward is a treat and positive praise as well as petting or patting the dog.

jack russell bone

Positive Reinforcement training dos and don’ts

Positive reinforcement training only works when you perform it correctly.

The correct way is to praise and reward good behavior while bad behavior there is no reward no praise.

Never use intimidation, physical punishment, or yelling as a punishment for bad behavior you simply withhold praise and treats.

Here are the dos and don’ts of positive reinforcement training for working with your dog.


  • Give immediate reward of praise or treat when the dog does what is required and wanted. If for example, you tell the dog to sit as soon as the dog sits you praise and provide the treat. If you wait and give the treat when the dog stands up you are confusing the dog.
  • Remember to keep it short and fun. Dogs do not have a long attention span.
  • Reduce treats over time and replace with simple praise and affection.
  • Stay consistent with commands.
  • Continue to use positive reinforcement with good behavior throughout the life of the dog.


  • Confuse the dog by going back and forth always use the same commands and rewards.
  • Set a period of time for the exercises and stick to it, so the dog does not become bored.
  • Do not reward bad behavior and do not use intimidating punishment such as yelling or striking the dog.
  • Never stop praising good behavior even after training is completed.

Where to use positive reinforcement in dog training

You can use positive reinforcement in housebreaking your puppy.

It can also teach good behavior such as not jumping on people, walking on a leash without pulling you along and many other issues of behavior.

The reverse of bad behavior, no treat no praise also will teach the dog that bad behavior is not acceptable.

two golden sit

When to start positive reinforcement training

As soon as you bring your puppy home it is time to start positive reinforcement training to teach housebreaking and other behaviors such as; sit, come, stay, and others.

Socializing is important as well and positive reinforcement training during socializing should still be in use.

It is important that your puppy learns things that are not allowable when it comes to socialization such as;

    • Jumping on people is not acceptable.
    • Yanking on the leash to run after another dog or animal is not good behavior.
    • Other bad behaviors you do not want your dog to exhibit. You must answer this behavior during socialization as well as training, as soon as they happen.
  • Will positive reinforcement work with older dogs that are a rescue?

Yes, positive reinforcement works with older dogs that are a rescue from shelters or other places.

One thing you must remember when it comes to rescues and older dogs, they have a history and some a history of abuse.

You should find out as much as possible about how they were previously treated.

Also remember that it will take time, patience, and love but it will work.

Things to consider for positive reinforcement training

When it comes to positive reinforcement training there are a few things you need to consider and decide on before you begin positive reinforcement training.

  • Decide what commands you will use. You should try to use short one word commands as much as possible. Command words would be words like; sit, stay, come, down (to stop jumping).
  • What type of treat and how many you will use, you also need to set a period of time on reducing the number of treats from the training. Once the dog sits each time you command sit in order to get the treat, begin reducing the number of times the treat is given and instead give praise and affection.
  • Keep the training sessions short to keep the dog’s attention.
  • Also keep training fun.
  • Remember that you are working with a dog, not a human. They may be similar in ways but they are different.

One thing to remember, after the training is complete you will need to continue the positive reinforcement to prevent behavior issues in the future.

how to deal with dog behavior problems

Reduce and prevent bad behavior issues with positive reinforcement

After you have your dog trained, you cannot stop positive reinforcement.

Positive reinforcement is an action that will need to continue through the life of your dog.

Reduce and prevent bad behavior issues with positive reinforcement, however, if you stop the positive reinforcement you will notice bad behavior begin.

Being consistent and continue positive reinforcement will allow your dog to know that he is doing what is right. Think of a child who feels neglected, that child will act out to get your attention. Again a dog is not the same as a child but it is an analogy that most people can understand.

In Conclusion

If done correctly positive reinforcement training works for both young and old dogs to train them in good behavior.

You will need some extra patience with older dogs that have come from previous situations.

Withholding treats and praise are a great correction for bad behavior. You never need to use force or physical punishment when it discouraging bad behavior.

Your dog and you will be happy and have a long successful relationship when you use positive reinforcement training correctly.

Lastly, you need to remember that positive reinforcement is to continue throughout the life of the dog.

Before you go teach you pooch brand new tricks, have a look at this positive reinforcement training video: