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.

You will need

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

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.

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.

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.