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Understanding Positive Reinforcement

Updated: Mar 16, 2021



What is “positive reinforcement”? Positive reinforcement is anything that will increase the chances of that behavior happening again. This means giving the dog something he values in order to encourage him to perform that behavior again. We do this in and outside of training.


I’ve listed a few examples of “positive reinforcement” in both helpful and unhelpful situations where an owner is unknowingly reinforcing bad behaviors.


Giving your dog a treat for doing an obedience command, such

as a sit or down. Reinforcing the sit and the down.


• Throwing a ball for your dog to fetch after your dog barked at

you. In this situation, the toy is reinforcing the bark.


• Petting your dog after your dog nudges your hand for

attention. The petting is reinforcing the nudge.


• Your dog pulls on the leash and you walk in the direction your

dog is pulling. Walking forward is giving your dog more

freedom and control, which would be reinforcing the pulling.

And people wonder why their dog keeps pulling on the leash.


• Your dog barks at someone and you reassure your dog by

petting them. In this situation, you would be reinforcing the

barking and not reassuring the dog as you may have thought.


• Your dog jumps up on someone and they pet your dog. The

petting would be reinforcing the jumping



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