How to Use Positive Reinforcement to Train Your Dog

You want to train your dog, but whether you’re training a rescue or a puppy, it’s difficult to know where to begin. Positive reinforcement is an excellent technique you can use not only to teach your dog a wide range of behaviors including how to walk on a leash better, stop jumping up on guests, and come when called, but also help with problem behaviors such as jumping and chewing or even reduce separation anxiety. Here is a step-by-step guide on the best ways to use positive reinforcement in order to train your dog.

Understand How Dogs Learn The Best Way

In order to train your dog, you must understand how they learn. Dogs are driven by rewards and repetition. This means that repeated exposure to a behavior followed by a positive result will teach the dog what we expect of them.

This is one of the best ways to use positive reinforcement in order to train your dog: you simply reward them with something they like when they successfully complete a task. If you want your puppy or rescue dog to stop jumping up on guests, for example, you can teach them to sit instead and then give them a treat as soon as they do so.

Positive reinforcement can also be used for more complex behaviors, such as walking on a leash better or coming when called. With these behaviors, it’s important not only to repeat the desired behavior but also to offer a reward such as food or praise.

What Is Positive Reinforcement?

Positive reinforcement is not a new concept. However, it has been proven to be one of the most effective ways to train your dog. The idea behind this training technique is pretty simple—if you do something good, you’ll get something good in return. Positive reinforcement is also known as operant conditioning, which uses rewards to change behavior.

For example, if you use positive reinforcement on your dog every time they potty outside, it will teach them that there are benefits for using the outdoors instead of indoors. It’s about teaching them what behaviors we reward with treats or attention and what behaviors we do not reward.

How Does Positive Reinforcement Work?

Positive reinforcement is a technique that relies on giving rewards to your dog in order to get the desired behavior. The reward can be anything from praise, petting, food, or toys. 

The idea behind this type of training is that you are teaching the dog to associate good things with the behaviors you want them to perform.

When you are starting out, it’s important to use small rewards for positive reinforcement. 

Positive reinforcement alone won’t work if your dog doesn’t earn any rewards for good behavior. As your dog becomes more used to the behaviors you’re asking for, you can then slowly increase the size and frequency of reinforcers.

Get Everyone In Your Family Involved

In order to have a successful dog training experience, it’s important that everyone in the family is invested. In the beginning, your dog will probably be most responsive to you as the owner. However, once your pup has learned a few basic commands and behaviors, encourage other family members to take charge of some training exercises so they can get involved.

It may seem daunting at first to teach your kids how to properly train a dog, but this is a great way for them to learn responsibility and develop a relationship with their pet from an early age. By teaching them from an early age how to provide positive reinforcement during training sessions for good behaviors and ignore bad ones, they’ll be able to better care for their pet as they grow up.

Establish A Clear Communication With Your Dog

It’s important to establish a clear communication with your dog before you begin training them. Establishing a clear communication will allow your dog to know what I expected of them and they will be more willing to learn.

If you’re not sure how to start this, there’s no need to worry. It’s actually very easy and all you need is patience and consistency.

The first thing you want to do is show your dog what you want it to do. For example, if your dog jumps on visitors, put them on their leash and hold their paws gently so they can see what it would be like if they didn’t jump. If your dog chews on furniture, place them in another room with nothing else in it so they can see that chewing on the furniture isn’t allowed and then replace the furniture with something that is okay for them to chew on.

Reward good behavior

The most important step to effectively train your dog is to reward good behavior. When your dog exhibits desirable behavior, you need to be sure to acknowledge it with a reward. The reward can vary depending on what the dog has done. For instance, if the dog sits on command, then the reward could be praise or petting. If the dog gets down on all fours and looks you in the eye when asked, then a treat may be appropriate.

Positive reinforcement can work well in shaping new behaviors. For example, if you want your dog to walk with you without pulling, start by walking towards them and rewarding them for walking next to you. That way they will learn that walking next to you equals treats! Not only will this help reduce pulling, but it will also improve their leash manners!

Ignore inappropriate behavior

In order to effectively train your dog, you must reinforce the opposite behavior. This means that if your dog is jumping up on guests, then you want them to sit when they greet a guest. You will then need to teach the dog that sitting is what you want, not jumping up.

Are you having trouble getting your pup to come when called? It’s important for you to ignore all other behaviors and focus solely on the one behavior that needs work. This means your pup can walk around or chew a toy, but as soon as they come back, praise and give a treat.

Be consistent in your reinforcement

Another most important aspect of using positive reinforcement to train your dog: You have to be consistent. For example, if you are teaching your dog how to shake, every time they do it successfully, you must treat them with a food reward.

If you are training your dog to come when called, every time they come when called, give them a treat. 

If you are teaching your dog not to chew on furniture, every time they don’t chew on furniture for any length of time, give them a treat.

Being consistent in your reinforcement will help in two fundamental ways. 

First off, it will make the behavior happen more often because the dog knows he will get rewarded for it if he does it when asked. 

Second, it will strengthen the behavior by increasing the frequency of rewards. The more often something happens when reinforced positively, the stronger that behavior becomes.

Problems You Can Solve Using Positive Reinforcement

If you’ve never trained a dog before, or if your dog has behavioral problems like hyperactivity, chewing, or barking at the door, you may be wondering how to go about it. If so, take solace in knowing that all these issues are easily solved with the help of positive reinforcement.

You can start by teaching your pup basic commands like sit and stay. Once they’re mastered, move on to more complicated behaviors like walking on a leash better or stopping them from jumping up on guests. 

What’s great is that with each success you’ll be building confidence for your dog and teaching them to trust you. As time goes on, you will establish an unbreakable bond between the two of you.


Positive reinforcement is a great way to train your dog and make him or her a more obedient and well-behaved companion. It’s important you start at a young age and make your training clear and consistent. 

Once you get the hang of it, the whole family can get involved and make sure your dog has a lifelong of learning.

But you need to be diligent and consistent every day to make sure your dog understands that good behavior is rewarded and inappropriate behavior is ignored or corrected.

Here are some helpful tips to get started:

1. If you’re rewarding good behavior, use a high-value reward like a treat or toy.

2. If you’re correcting inappropriate behavior, try removing the dog from the situation calmly.

3. Keep your training sessions short – positive reinforcement training should last just a few minutes at a time.

4. Be patient! It can take up to 2 months for your dog to respond to positive reinforcement training.

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