Dogs do doggy things, they have no knowledge or concept of good and bad, right or wrong. These are human concepts. So from our point of view, dogs sometime exhibit behaviours we do what, and some we don’t want; desired and undesired behaviour.

With positive reinforcement training, or reward based training, we reward the desired behaviours – the ones we want, and we ignore the undesired ones as much as possible. We might need to remove a dog from a situation, or remove something (including ourselves) from the dog. But we do not punish the bad.

By rewarding the ‘good’ behaviours, we make it more likely that the dog will make that same choice in the future, and the more we reward it, the more we strengthen that choice.

Rewards are usually food, but can be whatever the dog in question finds rewarding; a game of tug, a stroke, eye contact. We cannot determine what is rewarding to the dog.

Sometimes we inadvertently reinforce ‘bad’ behaviours, because we forget to look at it from the point of view of the dog, and think about what they find reinforcing. For example, a dog steals a sock from the laundry, we chase them for it – dog thinks ‘great game!’ and will continue to steal socks. Or, dog is barking at the postman, we yell at the dog for barking, dog thinks we’re joining in and continues to bark.

Dogs are making choices all the time, and whenever they find a choice to be rewarding (finding a piece of food while counter surfing) they will continue to repeat the behaviour. We need to ensure that they’re getting rewarded and reinforced for all their ‘good’ behaviour, and only the ‘good’ behaviour.

Related Articles

When Is a 'Leave It' Not a 'Leave It'?, Leave it, Drop it, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel eating Bread

When Is a ‘Leave It’ Not a ‘Leave It’?

We all want our dogs not to pick up or eat certain things, but how do we know that we're asking for the right thing from our dogs?

Bad Dog or Bad Training, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel looking Sad, Dog Training

Bad Dog or Bad Training?

What do we mean when we say our dog is being bad or naughty? Do we believe that they understand these human concepts?

My Puppy Won’t Pee Outside, Basset Hound puppy peeing on grass

My Puppy Won’t Pee Outside

Puppies peeing inside is a very common issue for new puppy owners. Find out why this happens and how to tackle it correctly.

What Is Lifestyle Dog Training?, Pug on owners lap in social gathering

What Is Lifestyle Dog Training?

“Training should be about helping animals succeed in the world we’ve created for them, not boosting our egos.” ~ Grey Stafford, PhD

My Puppy Hates Me, Golden Retriever Puppy rolling on grass with toilet roll, Puppy Training, Lifestyle

My Puppy Hates Me!

Why do some puppies appear to become spiteful after a couple of weeks at home? Do our puppies hate us, or have we broken them in some way?

How to walk your dog, French Bulldogs on leads on a walk

How to Walk Your Dog

Walking a dog is simple right? Yes. But most people are thinking about it wrong, and so are doing it wrong. Find out how to give your dog a more rewarding walk.

Your Dog Is Not a Computer. Cue Words Are Not Included, Beagle dog by laptop

Your Dog Is Not a Computer. Cue Words Are Not Included

Your dog is not programmed with a set of cue words for different tricks. Learn how to help your pup understand what you want from them.

What Makes a Good Dog Trainer? Golden Retriever out on a walk, Lifestyle Dog Training

What Makes a Good Dog Trainer?

Is it magic? Is it being able to teach any dog to perform any trick? Or is it something a little bit simpler?

Dog looking guilty?, human emotions, guilt, dog body language

How Guilty Does Your Dog Look?

Guilt is a human concept. So does it hold true when we apply it to our dogs? Can a dog look guilty? Can a dog feel guilty?

What are Sniff Walks?, Dog looking through fence

What are Sniff Walks?

A Sniff Walk should make up the majority of your dog's walks. See some video highlights from our CEO's outing with her dog, Kimber, today.

Puppy Socialisation: What is it?

What is Puppy Socialisation, why is it so important to get it right, and how do we go about accomplishing that?

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This