Positive Reinforcement for Your Puppy

Posted by | July 20, 2009 | Basic Training, Puppy Prep | No Comments

Getting your puppy to listen to you is so important and if you read on you will learn the cornerstone of all training both animal and human, it really will change the way you interact with animals.

Training your puppy or dog to understand when they have done something that you like is absolutely paramount in having a successful bond with your dog.

Positive Reinforcement

A positive reinforcer adds a stimulus to increase or maintain frequency of a behavior.  Basically, this means if you praise or give your dog a treat whilst they are undertaking a behaviour, such as a sit or interacting nicely with a visitor, then that behaviour will become more and more common.  See why it’s so important?  If you want your puppy to behave in a certain way then you have to reinforce them correctly. Timing is everything with training your dog, so using a bridging cue (a word that lets your dog a treat is on it’s way) is a great option as it buys you a little time to get that treat out.  Remember if you leave it too long then your puppy will not know what they are being praised for.  This also works the other way around, if you come in and find your puppy has had an accident, it is pointless telling them off as they will not understand the association just that when you enter a room horrible things happen and yes this includes rubbing your puppies nose in any thing! This outdated method has no standing in learning theory and only serves to cause your puppy severe distress.  Please read our toilet training artilce here to avoid things like this. This is also true if you come home and find your items chewed or damaged. Learn how to deal with this problem at the root cause by stopping chewing with our article here.

Negative Reinforcement

Negative reinforcement is also very important in your puppies training. This is withholding rewards to achieve the behaviour you want. For example if your puppy is jumping up, you do not reward your dog but you actually remove the reward (you) by turning your back.

To be really great at training your puppy you want to put them both together. Let’s use the jumping up example. Your puppy jumps up on you, you turn your back, your puppy sits, you turn around tell them good and reward your dog! Your puppy has learnt jumping up means nice things go away but sitting means nice things come!  Your puppy wants all the nice things so make sure you let your puppy know what you want to create manageable expectations.

Good means good


Your puppy does not understand the human language but we can teach them to recognise sounds/words as cues to encourage behaviours.  Your dog needs to be taught what the word ‘good’ or ‘yes’ actually means.

  • Get your pup’s attention with a treat
  • When he pays attention to you say ‘good’ or ‘yes’ whatever you prefer
  • Immediately give him a treat
  • Repeat this for ten minutes
  • Start asking for behaviours you have already taught i.e.. sit
  • When his bum hits the ground or he is getting there say ‘good’ to encourage him
  • Think of this command as a game of hot and cold
  • As they get near to performing the behaviour – say you want them to walk to their bed you can use ‘good’ as encouragement every time they take a step towards it and this is the great bit…They will know what you mean!

It really is that easy! Now you have taught this the training world is your oyster. You can encourage any behaviour you like using this command, so enjoy!

About Teaching Puppies

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.

Follow @teachingpuppies on twitter Follow Us