WHAT IS POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT?
If you’re new to force-free, Positive Reinforcement (R+) techniques, it may seem a bit overwhelming, but the general concept is quite simple; we reward what we want to see, teaching our dogs what we want them to do instead of only what we don’t want them to do. R+ methods are widely regarded as the most effective form of training because the dog creates a positive emotional response, achieving long-lasting results. R+ techniques are safe and do not utilize pain, fear, or punishment, which means that we do not run the risk of causing mental or physical damage to the dog.
Does it work for all dogs?
Yes! Dogs of all ages, breeds, sizes, and backgrounds learn through Positive Reinforcement. The idea that certain dogs need "a strong hand" is a myth; all dogs can learn (and thrive!) without the use of pain, punishment, force, fear, or verbal/physical corrections. We can create structure and set boundaries without aversive techniques.
What can we teach a dog using R+ training?
The sky is the limit! Positive Reinforcement can be used to teach our dog the basics (such as basic cues like 'sit' or house manners), shape complex behaviors (such as service dog tasks), and modify unwanted behaviors (such as reactivity).
What about aggression?
In most cases, aggression is rooted in a negative emotion, such as fear or frustration. Aggressive behaviors can be modified by changing a dog's conditioned emotional response. In short, helping a dog feel safe, comfortable, and confident through R+ training will change the unwanted behaviors that we are seeing.
Doesn't R+ training involve a lot of treats?
While food is often the reinforcement of choice when teaching or modifying a behavior, the options are endless. Anything that a dog considers positive can be used as reinforcement; depending on your dog's individual preferences and the behavior that we want to achieve, options may include play, sniffing, affection, or real-life scenarios, such as going outside. A Certified Professional Dog Trainer can help you determine the best reinforcement for your dog in any given situation.
How can I learn more about R+ training?
We have a wide variety of free resources available on our website, including content from some of our favorite R+ trainers. Our 'Intro to Positive Reinforcement' workshop is a great way to get hands-on experience with R+ training techniques; join us for an in-person workshop in the Detroit area, or check out our upcoming free online workshop on November 15.