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How to Use Positive Reinforcement in Dog Training

Positive reinforcement is a proven method for training and correcting dog behavior. You can apply this technique with a clear goal and a pocketful of Fido's favorite treats.


  • Step 1: Understand the method Understand the method of positive reinforcement. This training technique uses rewards of pea-sized treats and praise to encourage a desired behavior in a dog.
  • TIP: Experiment with different treats to find which elicits the best response.
  • Step 2: Develop a short command Develop a short command for the behavior you want, such as sit, stay, down, come, or heel. Make sure all family members consistently use the same command.
  • Step 3: Reward dog immediately Reward a dog with either a treat or verbal praise immediately for performing the desired behavior so they connect the action to the reward.
  • TIP: Keep training sessions short and fun to encourage dog and human bonding.
  • Step 4: Shape behavior Shape behavior by achieving a desired action in phases. For example, first have your dog take a paw off the ground, then lift it higher, and finally shake with you.
  • Step 5: Use treats intermittently Use treats as positive reinforcement intermittently once the dog has learned a new behavior. Gradually reduce treats from four out of five times to just occasionally, but continue to offer praise every time.
  • Step 6: Continue positive reinforcement Use positive reinforcement over time to maintain the desired behavior. Gentle reward-based training will help you create a range of acceptable pet behavior, making your dog a trustworthy friend and reliable companion.
  • FACT: In 2006, author John Grogan made his badly behaved dog a star with his bestselling memoir, Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog.

You Will Need

  • Pea-sized dog treats
  • Short commands
  • Verbal praise

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