5 Steps to Train Your Dog Using Positive Reinforcement

5 Steps to Train Your Dog Using Positive Reinforcement

Training your dog might seems like something that you will never get right. No matter how hard you try, you just don’t get your dog to obey you. This might be because you are doing it all wrong.

The one thing that you should always remember when it comes to training your puppy or even adult dog, is to do it with positive reinforcement. But what is positive reinforcement, and how do you use this to your advantage to train your dog? We will tell you all. 

What Is Positive Reinforcement?

Firstly, you need to understand what is positive reinforcement. This is where you are using rewards, and positive praises when you are training your dog. And, ignoring your dog when he is doing something wrong. 

The rewards can be anything from a doggy treat to a favorite playtime for the dog. Some dogs like playing ball, while others want to go for a walk. Making use of a clicker is also a great way for positive reinforcement training. There isn’t any proof that only a clicker will train your dog correctly, or that giving treats is the only way for positive training. 

What Is the Difference Between Positive and Negative Reinforcement?

What is the difference between positive and negative reinforcements? It’s crucial to know the difference between positive and negative training. Otherwise, you might enforce negative training, and this can have a huge negative impact on your relationship with your dog.

As we said before, positive reinforcement is where you are making use of praises, treats, and rewards to get the attention of your dog. With repetition of good behavior result in treats, they will start learning faster. Just to get more treats or rewards. 

Negative reinforcement or negative training is when you are angry with your dog and talk to him in an angry voice. Fighting when training your dog is never a good idea and will not get the results you were hoping for.  

What Happens When You Don’t Use Positive Reinforcement Training?

There are a couple of things that might happen when you don’t use positive reinforcement training. The first and most important reason is that you will not get the results you were hoping for. The dog might end up being afraid of you, not listening to you, and even be worse than before the training. 

On the other hand, the dog might start to listen to you, but just because he is afraid of you. Not something you want from your dog and best friend. And, if you are getting your dog to listen to you, it is going to take a lot longer than with positive reinforcement. 

Training your dog with positive reinforcement

Now, that you know the importance of training your dog, making use of positive reinforcement, you might be wondering how it actually works. How do you train your dog, making use of positive reinforcement? These are the 5 steps in training your dog, making use of positive training, the key to success. 

Show Off the Treat

For your dog to know what he is working for; he needs to see it. Meaning that you need to show the treat your dog. If this is a clicker that you are using, you should use it and praise him at the same time before you begin the training.

If this is a treat you are giving him, you need to make sure that he is smelling the treat. Seeing and smelling the treat is going to motivate the dog to get the treat. Some people are even giving them a taste of the treat, before training starts. 

Get Excited and Keep It Fun

Don’t make the training formal, using a harsh voice, and think that your dog will learn. This is part of positive reinforcement. You should be in a playful mood, must make the learning fun for the dog, and keep everything excited. 

The moment that you start to feel frustrated, you should stop the training session. Or, if you see that your dog isn’t interested and not in the mood for learning, you should stop for the day as well. If one of you isn’t in a fun mood, it can spoil the whole training and he will not obey you. 

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

Besides treats and positive reinforcement, repeating is essential. You should repeat the one command over and over again until the dog can do it without any hesitation. 

You should also not teach the dog more than one command at a time. This can confuse the dog and it can lead to frustration for you and the dog. Every day, before you teach a new command, you should repeat the previous commands first. Making sure that he remembers the previous commands before you continue with a new one. But remember the treats and positive reinforcement with each command. 

Gradually Decrease Attention

When you are successful with training your dog, giving him attention and treats, you need to decrease it over time. The result is that you should only give the command and the dog should obey. This will not happen overnight.

By stopping the attention and treats at once with training will not be advisable. You need to decrease it slowly. But, you should always praise the dog after a command was done successfully. Even if it’s only with a “good boy”. 

Strengthen Your Bond

A strong bond between a dog and its owner will make training even easier. And, more fun. If you love your dog, and your dog loves you, training will be fun. So, you should make time for just having fun. Playing ball, throwing sticks, or just fooling around with your dog. 

The stronger the bond, the easier the dog will train. For him, this will be a positive reaction to his training. Make sure that even if he isn’t training easy, that you end the training session with cuddles and affection. 

Best Ways to Train Your Dog with Reward

The secret to positive reinforcement is the rewards you give to your dog while training. And, giving dog treats is the most popular training treats. It’s successful because it’s something that dogs like and they know that if they are executing the command, they are getting their favorite treat. 

But, what is the best reward to give your dog? What are the best ways to train your dog with rewards? Here are some tips and information to assist in this decision making. 

Reward from Your Dog’s Point of View

Take the reward from your dog’s point of view. Will you do anything for a treat that you don’t like? If your dog doesn’t like the dog biscuits, then he will not train successfully, if you are giving him biscuits as a reward.

You should test what reward is going to be the one thing that will motivate your dog to train successfully. For some, it is just affection. While for others it might be a dog treat. It needs to be something that your dog likes to eat or enjoy. 

Rate of Reinforcement

The rate of reinforcement is essential. Meaning that the environment where you are training your dog should be considered when you choose the reward. 

A dog is making use of smell and sight, and the only thing that he needs to smell is the treat in your hand when training. So, when you are training near your kitchen or the garbage bin, will not get the right results. You should try training in a space where there aren’t any distractions like smells or even other dogs that might distract the dog from the reward in your hand and training. 


Timing is also essential. You can use the best reward. Something that the dog loves and will do anything for. However, if he is sick or not in the mood for training, then even the best reward won’t work. When the dog is tired, sick, or just had his food, it isn’t going to be a good idea for training. Timing will be bad and he will want to focus on something else. 

Another thing about timing is when you should give the reward. When giving a reward, you need to do it right after he obeys a command. Don’t wait for a couple of minutes and then reward him. The sooner you are giving the reward, the easier the dog will know what the reward is for. 

Placement of Rewards

The placement of rewards is essential. When should you give the reward? When he is in the position of the command. Let us explain.

When you command him to sit, you need to reward him while he is sitting. The moment that he stands up, he isn’t obeying the command anymore. Then, he will be confused about what the reward is for. For sitting or for standing up again. When you call your dog over, give the reward when he reaches you, you should not wait until he walks away before you call him again for the reward. 


Training your dog, using positive reinforcement is the best way of training. You need to understand everything around positive reinforcement, rewards, and things that you should not do during training. You should remember that the 5 steps in positive reinforcement training are:

  • Show off the treat
  • Get excited and making it fun
  • Repeat, repeat, and repeat
  • Gradually decreasing attention
  • Strengthening your bond

Training your dog isn’t as hard as you might think. And, you don’t need to take it to an obedience school if you know exactly how to train your dog successfully. The one and only method that is working is positive reinforcement training. With this guide, you will now know everything that there is to know about positive training. And, you will know how to use rewards correctly to make training even more successful. The only thing left to do is to go out and to start training your dog, positively. 

Picture source. Unsplash.com

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