Positive Reinforcement Training

A Brief Guide:

Here at the Mindful Pet we believe in scientifically proven, humane, effective and kind methods of animal training - that is Positive Reinforcement Training.

Many owners resort to punishment as their default dog training method, or they try to dominate their dog and show them who is boss.  These methods can be potentially harmful to our pets, and moreover there are many difficulties in administering punishment effectively.  Please check out my article below for more information why these methods are not recommended.   

To do this we should utilise scientifically proven and highly efficacious Positive Reinforcement Methods, which is a rewards based training method to teach dogs desirable behaviours.  In this method, we give the dog something it wants to make the behaviour more likely to be repeated again.  This is the most humane and effective training method, as it avoids undesirable behavioural side effects.  It also makes training a much more enjoyable experience and helps improve the bond with the pet.

Importantly - seek help if you and your pet need it from an experienced positive reinforcement trainer, and or speak to your veterinarian who can point you in the right direction.


Positive Reinforcement Training Pointers:

  • Clear Communication:  consistency on verbal and visual cues from whole family
  • Timing:  immediate presentation of reward
  • Secondary Reinforcer: consider use of bridging word (eg. Yes) or clicker if reward can’t be given quickly
  • Use of desirable rewards - note some dogs are not as motivated by treats
  • Short sessions and always end on a positive point
  • Start in quiet, distraction free areas when you pet is calm and relaxed
  • It is much better to prevent a behaviour problem than to try and fix or modify one.  

But i don’t want to rely on treats all the time…

The good news you won’t need to.  Whilst in the initial learning stage constant reinforcement is necessary, however to maintain a learned behaviour we must switch to a variable schedule of reinforcement, which means to use reinforcement (reward) only occasionally, and on a random and or unpredictable basis.  This keeps your pet excited and invested in training.  A variable schedule of reinforcement is much more effective in maintaining behaviour than a predictable schedule of reinforcement!


Great Positive Reinforcement Training References:

+  Decoding Your Dog written by the American College of Veterinary Behaviourists

+  How to Behave so your dog behaves, written by Dr Sophia Yin and her website - http://drsophiayin.com 

+  Don’t shoot the dog, the new art of teaching and training, written by Dr Karen Pryor

+  Victoria Stillwell’s websites: http://positively.com

These are some of Dr Lucy's favourites (all tried, tested & thoroughly enjoyed) which can provide some really great training overview and general behavioural advice to pet owners.