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Positive reinforcement

Some people claim that positive reinforcement training ‘doesn’t work’ because it just involves throwing treats around and letting your dog do whatever they want. This isn’t positive reinforcement training, and if you’re doing it like this you’re doing it wrong.

Positive reinforcement is a science-based approach to conditioning or counter-conditioning certain behaviours, actions or even feelings. It works on the principle that rewarding behaviour can help to strengthen it and encourage its repetition. Through strengthening the behaviours we want to see, we can help our dogs to behave differently and, most importantly, to feel differently about the things in life they find hard.

I absolutely advocate for dogs - I always work in a dog-centred way and put their needs, interests and feelings at the forefront of any training programme. I also try to talk to people about their expectations of their dog, and why at times they can be a little bit high. Dogs are dogs, after all, and we can’t expect them to behave impeccably all of the time - or to act like humans - this wouldn’t be within their interests.

Understanding your dog, and making some adjustments to make their life safer and easier, isn’t the same thing as being permissive or ‘letting your dog walk all over you’ as some would have you believe. Real behaviour change can be achieved through positive reinforcement training. And yes, that includes reactive dogs and those with chronic behaviour issues.

Set boundaries, but don’t shout about it.

Give guidance without inflicting harm.

It works. Don’t be fooled by those who tell you it doesn’t! 🐾

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