Positive Reinforcement – Reward Based Training

What is positive reinforcement?  It is defined as the addition of a reward following a desired behaviour, in the anticipation that the behaviour will occur again.  In positive reward-based training there are two things to remember

  1. good behaviour is rewarded (bad behaviour is not punished, nor is it permissive) and
  2. the reward has to be seen as rewarding by the one receiving the reward (i.e. your dog). If your dog doesn’t think it’s great at that moment, then it isn’t a reward.

In our training program you will learn how to discover your dog’s hierarchy of rewards.  What is his most favourite and what is he willing to work for on low- level training opportunities?  Rewards can take on many forms:

  • toys – retrieving, tugging, carrying
  • treats – dry kibble, cheese, soft treats, hard treats, jerky, pepperoni sticks, etc.
  • praise – hands on or verbal

There are moments in training where your dog will happily work for dry kibble and other moments where you will only have his focus with something of higher “value” — maybe that’s cheese or maybe that is his favourite tug toy.

Markers or secondary reinforcers (such as using a clicker or “yes”) can be powerful tools to aid the training process for your dog, which continues to encourage that positive training perspective.   We will help you work on your skills using these tools.

Positive reinforcement works on developing trust which is important for your relationship building (we will discuss that bond more in our next blog post).   It encourages your dog to think, to problem solving, to learn!  Ultimately isn’t that the goal?  For your dog to learn the behaviours you desire – be that a good well-behaved house dog or a dog to compete in sports.  It is our goal to help get you there – wherever “there” may be!

Great resources:

Positively – Victoria Stilwell

The Other End of the Leash – Patricia McConnell

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