Skip to Content

3 Important Tips to Train your Dog using Positive Reinforcement 

Many dog owners don’t feel they need to train their four-legged friends, however, every dog expert will tell you that it is vital. Here are some of the reasons why you should train your dog:

3 Important Tips to Train your Dog using Positive Reinforcement

  • Training teaches dogs how to stop unwanted behavior: If your dog is jumping up on people, barking when somebody arrives at your home, potty problems, training can help solve these frustrating behaviors. 
  • Training helps you safely take your dog out for walks: If your dog is not trained how to walk alongside you on a leash, there will be problems. If your dog is not trained and sees a cat or another dog, they will probably chase after him or her. 
  • Dog training helps your dog focus: Naturally, dogs are distracted easily. Training helps your dog stay focused. 
  • Training helps build a strong relationship between the owner and the dog.
  • Training helps your dog physically and mentally. 
  • Training helps improve your dog’s confidence. 

Whatever your reasons to get a pet are, when it comes to dogs, training is an important part of dog ownership.

Boy and his Jack Russell Terrier during dog training with a clicker

Why Train Dogs Using Positive Reinforcement?

There are plenty of different dog training methods out there. In this article, we combine clicker training with positive reinforcement.

We have chosen to use these methods of training because unlike other methods, such as electronic collar training, (which punishes your dog when they do something they shouldn’t be doing) we don’t hurt the dog at any stage.

Cesar Milan, a celebrity dog trainer has attempted to bring back old methods of dog training to our television screens over the past few years.

Milan punishes the dogs by yanking the chain, kicking the dog, and other forms of force to hurt the dog not to make the same mistakes again.

Many trainers and dog owners find this form of training cruel. Sure, his methods get quick results, but on many occasions, dogs who have been punished for unwanted behavior leads to permanent anxiety

Positive reinforcement and clicker training are probably the most used methods of dog training nowadays. The process is straightforward.

When your dog does something you want him or her to do, you reward the dog with a treat or a toy.

When your dog does something bad, you simply don’t acknowledge him or her.

The only punishment is that you will take away their toy or treat. Modern dog trainers understand that they don’t need to physically punish dogs to train them.  

Girl giving a treat to happy dog during dog training

Getting your Dog to Focus

The first step you will want to take when training your dog is teaching them how to focus.

When you have your dog’s full attention, training becomes much easier. 

You will need a clicker and lots of treats. You’ll find clickers online or at your local pet store.

Your dog can be any age to train them how to focus.

Lots of trainers who teach their dogs through punishment recommended that you wait for the dog to reach six months before you start training.

This rule doesn’t apply when training your dog using positive reinforcement so you can start training straight away. 

The trick to getting your dog to focus is by making eye contact with them. The following steps should help you to get your dog’s attention. 

  1. Have your clicker and treats ready.
  2. Say “look” to your dog.
  3. When your dog looks into your eyes, press the button on the clicker, and reward them with a treat. To help your dog look into your eyes, point one finger or hold the treat towards your eye while giving the command “look”. 
  4. Repeat

Positive reinforcement is all about reputation and consistency. This doesn’t mean you spend 30 minutes of your day telling your dog to “look”.

Training should be spread out.

Don’t just train your dog in the same area each time.

Getting your dog to focus in your home might be easy, however, when you bring your dog to the park, and they sense lots of different smells and other animals, getting them to focus will prove much more difficult.

Bring your clicker and treats with you everywhere you go. 

Teaching your dog to “Leave it”

Dogs can get on your nerves at times.

Situations like when they chew on your new shoes or eat something they shouldn’t be eating can get frustrating.

There are many reasons why you will want to teach your dog how to leave things alone. This is a great command to help teach your dog good manners

Many dog owners think their pet will never be able to understand the “leave it” command, however, it is easier than you might think to teach.

Again, you will need treats and a clicker.

  1. Put treats on the floor.
  2. As soon as your dog goes to eat the treats, put both your hands over the food so your dog can’t eat it and say “leave it”. You don’t need to shout commands when using this method of training. 
  3. Your dog will probably sniff around your hands while they are over the treats, so wait until she stops  focusing on the treat. As soon as she does, press the clicker, give her a treat (not from the treats on the floor), and lots of praise.
  4. Repeat this and when she gets better, you won’t need to put your hands over the food. You will be able to tell her to “leave it” and she won’t touch the treat in front of her.
  5. After she gets the hang of this, get her to focus on you instead of the treat. Put food on the floor, as she goes to eat it say “leave it” when she leaves it then say “look”, press the clicker and reward. 

When your dog successfully does what you tell them to do for the first time, reward generously.

Most dog trainers call this “bingo treats”.

Instead of having one small piece of turkey, four or five small pieces and heaps of praise will help her understand she has done something right. 

White puppy rolling on the grass with a roll of tissue paper

Potty Training

Your new puppy will inevitably leave you unwanted little stinky gifts around the house at the early stages of their life.

Fixing this issue won’t happen overnight, so remember to be patient. 

Many dog owners like to push their noses into the mess the dog has left behind, or shout and give out to the dog. This will only make your dog nervous, and in the future, they will be afraid to go to potty anywhere near you.

They might even leave your property to go to potty, which often leads to your dog going missing. 

To train your dog how to potty by using positive reinforcement you will need a tissue, a clicker, and yummy treats. 

  1. As soon as your dog goes potty in your home, clean it up with tissue and bring the dog outside. Put the dog in the area you would like them to go potty and place the dirty tissue in this location. Don’t leave  the tissue on the area, just keep on wiping it into the ground. The dog will smell the dirty tissue and recognize their urine scent. 
  2. The next time you feel your dog needs to go potty, bring them out to that location.
  3. Give the command “go pee” and when they go potty, press the clicker, reward, and praise them. 

If you are consistent, you should be able to get your dog to go potty on command. 

Woman training two large dogs

Summary

Be careful not to overdo it with the treats as this can lead to obesity.

Not all dogs are motivated by treats, so many trainers use pull toys or praise which can work just as well.

You don’t want to be giving your dog treats for the rest of their life, so it is important to gradually wean your dog off them. Replace the treats with praise.

Also, you probably won’t have the clicker on you everywhere you go so it is important to be able to give these commands without the clicker. Clickers should only be used when teaching the dog new commands.

Love these woofs?

Help spread our waggie tales. You're pawesome for doing it!