Positive Reinforcement In Basic Obedience Training

Basic Obedience Training

The educational aids that you can find on the market can be very useful, however, they do not all respect the well-being of your animal.

Animal behavior specialists emphasize that education must be done by reinforcing desired behaviors rather than undesirable behaviors.

Here’s a breakdown of why positive reinforcement is best for dog training, how long sessions should be, common mistakes to avoid, plus key takeaways from the provided text:

Why Positive Reinforcement Works

  • Builds Trust: Dogs are eager to please. Positive reinforcement builds a relationship where your dog wants to work with you.
  • Motivates Learning: Rewarding desired behaviors makes training fun and keeps your dog engaged.
  • Avoids Fear and Stress: Punishment based training creates anxiety, potentially leading to aggression or withdrawn behavior.
  • Scientifically Sound: Animal behavior experts agree that rewarding good behavior is far more effective than punishing the bad.

Training Session Length

  • Short and Sweet: Keep sessions 5-20 minutes, depending on your dog’s age and attention span.
  • Multiple Sessions are Better: 3 brief sessions daily are more effective than one long, frustrating one.

10 Common Training Mistakes

  1. Wrong Method: Coercive methods damage the dog-human bond. Choose positive reinforcement.
  2. Rushing the Process: Dogs learn at their own pace. Be patient and break down tasks into small steps.
  3. Ignoring Your Dog’s Signals: Learn your dog’s body language to understand if they’re confused, tired, or anxious.
  4. Letting Puppy Cuteness Slide: Don’t be lax with puppies. Good habits start early!
  5. Inconsistency: All family members must enforce the same rules, using the same commands.
  6. Too Many Words: Choose one short command per action, don’t change it.
  7. Repeating Ineffective Commands If your dog doesn’t respond, rethink your approach, don’t just get louder.
  8. Over-Rewarding: Treats are for training. Outside of sessions, reward calm behavior to avoid begging.
  9. Ignoring Calmness: Intentionally praise your dog for being relaxed to encourage this behavior.
  10. Controlling vs. Educating: A well-trained dog still needs freedom to be a dog!

Key Takeaways

  • Positive Training Creates a Happy Dog: Training based on trust and rewards makes for a joyful, eager-to-learn companion.
  • Consistency is Key All members of the household must be on the same page to help your dog succeed.
  • Patience is a Must Each dog learns at their own pace. Celebrate the small wins along the way!
  • Training is For Life Even well-trained dogs need refresher sessions and practice in new environments.

Is The Best Way To Educate Positive Reinforcement In Basic Obedience Training?

To better understand the difference between these two methods, it is important to know that the terms “positive” and “negative” do not correspond to the concepts of good or bad. In reality, positive reinforcement involves giving something to the animal and its negative counterpart involves taking something from it.

Additionally, the term “punishment” implies that the likelihood of the animal repeating an action is reduced, while the term “reinforcement” implies that it increases. Thus, we see that:

Positive punishment is based on the administration of an adverse stimulus powerful enough to interrupt problematic behavior. For example by reprimanding the animal or spraying it with water to avoid certain behaviors.

Therefore, experts recommend the use of positive reinforcement for educational purposes. With positive methods, after performing an action the dog receives a pleasant stimulus, which increases the likelihood that he will repeat this action in the future.

How Long Should Each Session Of Basic Obedience Training Last?

In terms of duration, it must be adapted according to your animal. Overall, they range from 5 to 20 minutes depending on the dog’s attention span and motivation.

The idea is to do it 3 times a day to maintain a good frequency of repetition of the exercises (you will have better returns with 3 sessions of 5 minutes than with one of 20 minutes most of the time). Keep the training sessions fun for your dogs, this is how they will show more willingness to exercise and you can have longer sessions.

10 Basic Rules To Train Your Dog:

To train your dog successfully, you will need to demonstrate positivity, kindness, patience, consistency, listening, and many other qualities.

Your animal has its abilities and it learns at its own pace, and more or less quickly depending on your attitude. Here are the 10 basic rules you need to know to properly educate your dog.

A Positive And Caring Attitude:

To successfully train your dog, you must be positive and caring. By doing this, your pet will be more confident and more willing to satisfy and obey you.  Acting with gentleness, kindness, and positivity are the keys to success with your dog.

Great Patience:

Being patient is essential when training your pet. This is an essential quality that you will need to demonstrate because dogs learn more or less quickly.

You will find that some tasks are acquired very quickly and that for others it takes time. Repeat several times and as much as necessary, this is essential for learning.

This does not mean that your dog did not listen to you on previous occasions, but that he needs a little more time to integrate this new command. Without patience, you might as well tell yourself that you will achieve nothing.

Well-Measured Firmness:

Firmness is not severity and even less domination, violence, punishment, and humiliation. As part of a healthy education and a balanced relationship with your animal, brutality, and nastiness have no place.

Firmness means consistently issuing orders and requests to show your pet that you are the dominant member of the household and that he must listen to you. Be regular, concise, and clear so that your animal progresses by listening to you attentively.

Being firm means being a master who listens, but who knows how to impose himself and be respected while respecting his animal. When you give a command or undertake a new learning, firmness will help your dog to internalize it and make it a habit.


As we have said, training a dog requires patience and you will very often have to repeat an action or a step before it is definitively acquired. It is important to be regular. By only asking your dog rarely, once in a while, you will not achieve much, because your animal will probably not have integrated the gesture into its routine.

To help him learn, you must ask him regularly, but without overdoing it. The key is to find the right dosage. Repeat, repeat, repeat and you will succeed.


To properly train your dog, you have to put yourself in his place. The better you know it, the easier it will be. Your dog is not human and has different needs, feelings, and expectations.

If your pet insists on peeing on the bathroom floor every day while you’re away, ask yourself why. Maybe you cleaned his urine with bleach?

This error is common. However, bleach attracts dogs. Your animal will therefore naturally do its business in the same place, thinking that it is the place that you have designated for it.

Are you embarking on an apprenticeship and are disappointed to find that your animal does not listen to you? Maybe it wasn’t the right time for him. You are not always attentive to others all the time.

Attentive Listening:

To learn and teach, you also need to know how to listen. Your dog speaks to you in his way. He may sometimes show you that he is not able to follow you because he is too tired, he is hungry or thirsty, etc.

Being attentive and concentrated is therefore not possible for your dog. If your dog poops anywhere, he can send you a message, that he misses the opportunity to go out to urinate, that he misses you, etc.

If you have embarked on a new learning process and after listening attentively to you he becomes tired, it may be time to take a break, because your dog will eventually get tired and will no longer be able to listen to you. and understand you.

Adapt to him by listening to him. Stubbornness will do you no good and may, on the contrary, cause you to fail.

Encourage, Congratulate, and Reward:

As part of kindness and positive education, it is essential to encourage your animal to help it persevere, to congratulate it when it succeeds in action, and to reward it once your lesson is over.

If you remain impassive when your dog succeeds in learning a new command, he will not understand that he has succeeded.

If you appear aggressive, impatient, or disappointed when he fails, he will feel like he is constantly disappointing you and will no longer understand what you expect from him. By encouraging and rewarding him, you help him to progress and want to learn.

Clarity And Consistency:

Your dog doesn’t speak the same language as you. On the other hand, it is very sensitive to your attitude, your intonation of voice, your facial expressions, and your body posture.

He will use these elements to understand you. So, to teach him a new trick or command, be clear and consistent. Choose a short formula and don’t change it again.

If to teach him to sit you sometimes say “Sit!” and other times “Sit down!”, “I want you to sit down!”, “are you going to sit down?”, “don’t move from here!”, he won’t understand that you are asking him always the same thing.

Also, do not hesitate to associate words with gestures and facial expressions. If you catch him doing something stupid, tell him “no!” frowning and waving your index finger.

Adaptation And Progression:

Don’t expect your dog to know how to sit straight away, come to heel at the first call, do his business outside on his first night in your home, etc.

Adapt to his learning pace, otherwise, you will feel like you are hitting a wall and your dog will feel like he is constantly disappointing you, which creates a vicious circle of failure. Learning requires steps and each step must be perfectly mastered before moving on to the next. Patience, patience!

Start As Soon As Possible:

Start training your dog as soon as he joins your home, giving him a few days to get used to you. There’s no point scaring him right away if he’s not yet confident.

If you adopt a puppy, teach him the rules of the house as quickly as possible so that he learns them quickly. With older dogs, be patient and integrate learning over time.

Common Mistakes To Avoid During Basic Obedience Training:

Do you already have a dog or are you preparing to welcome one? Maybe dog training and training simply interests you? You are in the right place. Training your dog is not easy and cannot be improvised. Let’s see together what are the ten most common mistakes in training a dog.

Choosing A Training Method That Suits Neither Your Dog Nor You:

There are as many training methods as there are dog-human pairs and what works for one will not necessarily work for others.

However, there are major trends in education that it is important to know to be able to adapt as best as possible.

We can thus contrast coercive or “traditional” education with “positive” or “benevolent” education. These two trends are themselves subdivided into numerous others that may be interesting to discover.

“Traditional” education aims to establish the position of the human as “dominant” or “alpha male” and places the dog as “last of the pack”.

Educating your dog in this way amounts to using physical restraints and undesirable behaviors are physically punished (slap on the muzzle, leash seized on the collar, electric collar, etc.).

“Positive” education no longer places the dog as the “last of the pack”. Bad actions are prevented by managing the environment by, for example, placing the subjects of mischief out of reach of the dog, and desirable behaviors are reinforced using a reward.

Physical punishments and coercion are not used in this method of education and we seek to obtain the cooperation of our companion rather than his submission. You will have understood that this training method is healthier for creating a beautiful relationship with your dog.

Wanting To Go Too Quickly In Training Your Dog:

Although they have acquired a detailed understanding of human beings, dogs need time to understand what their guardian expects of them. In dog training, we often talk about the “3D” rule: duration distance distractions.

Training a dog can sometimes be a long process. However, to be sure that your dog will carry out the order or the requested trick you must proceed step by step and gradually grade each of these cursors.

To lay the foundations, it may be interesting to start learning in a distraction-free place like your living room for example.

Without any distance, your dog is right in front of you, and without duration: as soon as the order is obtained you are rewarded. Little by little you will increase one or the other of the 3Ds. For example a “sit” always in your living room facing your dog but for 3 then 10 then 15 seconds before rewarding him.

Subsequently, it may be beneficial to repeat these orders in other circumstances during walks or with peers (so that he remains obedient even when distracted by other dogs), for example. You can then work on other commands and teach him the recall.

Don’t forget to regularly lower the level of difficulty that you impose on your companion. If you always demand more from him you will end up setting him up for failure and therefore discouraging him.

Not Listening To Your Dog:

Your dog communicates with you constantly and sometimes in a very discreet way. It’s up to you to learn how to decode it.

This will allow you to anticipate the problems that he might encounter, discomfort, anxiety, or even pain that would prevent him from performing a trick. If you have an anxious dog, knowing him and knowing how to decipher his discomfort signals can help you prevent him from putting himself in danger.

Communicating with a pet who has codes that are completely different from ours can sometimes be scary. Not reacting appropriately can cause the dog to become frightened or even bite.

It is important not to punish every bite because the cause of it can be human misunderstanding and not always bad canine behavior.

Letting Yourself Be Softened:

This error is common among owners of puppies or small dogs. Indeed, how can you not fall in love with your adorable puppy when he arrives home?

However, in the case where it is a German Shepherd who, once an adult, can weigh up to thirty-five kilos, you will regret having been too lax when he grows in the nettles.

For dogs, obedience must be acquired as quickly as possible so as not to have to resort to punishment too often.

So as soon as he arrives home, even if he cracks you up, you have to set rules and not deviate from them because the faults acquired during childhood are preserved and often worsen in adulthood.

Order – Contraorder – Disorder:

As explained in the previous point, the dog’s balance needs to have limits that do not change over time. If a room is prohibited it should remain so.

To do this, it is important to discuss with all members of the household the rules of conduct to be applied to the dog upon its arrival. Children must be involved in enforcing the rules and displaying consistent guidelines.

Do Not Always Use The Same Word:

This error follows directly from the previous one although it applies more precisely to learning an order.

Take for example “Sit” “Sit” “Sit” and “Put your butt down”: if all these commands mean the same thing in our eyes your dog will be completely lost. Imagine learning a new language: your dog is like you, he grasps a few words along with the ones he has learned and the rest is just background noise. So to get a clear answer always use the same order to get the same action.

Repeating Orders:

Is your dog not obeying quickly enough, balking, or beating around the bush? It is very tempting to repeat the order over and over again until you get the desired result, or even raise your voice. But what do you think he’ll take away from it?

That your voice is just an incessant hubbub to which it is not necessarily useful to pay attention. Furthermore, the annoyance showing in your voice will only make him want to move away from the threat you represent to him.

In the case of a young dog, a loud voice can even have the opposite effect and excite him, which will make the learning session even less productive. In dog training, many things depend on the trainer and not on the dog itself.

If this part seems complicated to you and/or does not work with your dog, a behaviorist or dog trainer can help you find the right training method. These canine professionals know our four-legged friends by heart and know how to calm an aggressive dog and teach them new commands or even cleanliness.

Rewarding Your Dog Excessively:

This point may seem a little contradictory to the previous ones. When you teach your four-legged companion a new command, it is important to reward him when he performs the trick well.

However, if you get into the habit of rewarding him each time, he will likely offer it to you in every way to get the coveted treat. It is therefore very important not to reward your dog outside of training sessions.

This will prevent him from getting excited in your kitchen by offering you every trick in his repertoire in the hope of having a part of your meal.

Do Not Reward Your Dog When He Is Calm:

Yes, calm is rewarded. This may seem surprisingly incongruous or even unnecessary. And yet when you pass by the terrace of a café and you see this dog lying quietly under the table you tell yourself that your electric battery on legs would never be able to do the same. However, this is entirely possible by rewarding calm.

First in the garden then in a field, why not a little-used path then on a sidewalk… You must gradually increase the difficulty by gently rewarding the relaxed and calm state of your dog.

You will gradually see he will stop jumping around guests when you are just having a coffee in your living room. Likewise, he will wait quietly for you to resume your walk if you come across an acquaintance. In short, you will have a calm dog.

Wanting To Control Your Dog At All Costs Rather Than Educating Him:

It is important, as the guardian of a dog, to be aware of the sometimes very fine line between “training” and “controlling”. It is important to give him room to express himself.

Of course, he will not always do exactly what society expects of him, perhaps he will take the wrong steps, but isn’t it better to have a dog who is well-behaved and educated than a dog controlled and without freedom?


All breeds are different but training will almost always remain the same for all dogs. Training your adorable dog requires patience and firmness to be effective. It also requires consistency and this is especially true if you have multiple family members.

It is equally important to train all family members on how to care for your dog so that everyone is on the same page, especially your pet Finally, I recommend taking advice from a dog trainer near you and/or following training offered by qualified professionals for puppies or adult dogs!

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Aapt Dubey
Aapt Dubey

Aapt Dubey, a devoted canine enthusiast and experienced dog Owner, brings boundless passion to our team. With a heart full of love for our four-legged friends, Aapt is dedicated to sharing insights on dog care, behavior, and training to make every pup's life happier and healthier at ItsAboutDog.com.

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