Positive Reinforcement or Negative Punishment Dog Training ...What's That?!

Positive Reinforcement Dog Training Methods

We will start with a few of the essential elements required for training a dog are: motivation, reinforcement and punishment.

Motivation - All learning entails some change in behavior. In order to change the dog must be motivated to do so. No change in behavior or learning can happen without it.

Reinforcement - To increase the chances of a response occurring, some sort of reinforcement will need to be involved, whether verbal praise or removal of a punishment or correction.

There are two types of reinforcement: Positive and Negative.

Positive reinforcement is used when the dog works to get things HE likes. This involves you giving reinforcement a the exact moment that the dog performs the desired behavior. This reward increases the likelihood that the dog will repeat the behavior in the future. For example: Giving a dog a food treat the moment he achieves the sitting position.

More examples of positive reinforcers are:

Walks, Attention, Petting, Food treats, Playing with other dogs, Playing with toys, Getting to sniff, Car rides, Scratches, Rubs, Going outside, Hugs, Playing with you

Negative reinforcement is the removal of something the dog considers unpleasant the instant he performs the desired behavior. In other words, the dog works to AVOID something he dislikes. For example: Releasing the pressure on a flat buckle collar the moment the dog achieves the sitting position.

Other examples of negative reinforcers are:

Water spray, Being ignored, Losing their playmate, Shaker can, Raising your voice, Losing their toys, Losing their food treat

You can use both positive and negative reinforcers to increase a behavior or reduce a behavior.

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Training Example - Jumping On Furniture

Desired Behavior:


POSITIVE Reinforcement

Feeding dog treats when he’s on the floor and saying “Good Off”.

NEGATIVE Reinforcement

This could be that the dog gets relief from the prickly side of a plastic carpet runner positioned on the couch the instant he jumps off.

Punishment - A penalty is imposed to decrease the likelihood of a particular behavior occurring. The punishment must be something that THE DOG feels is unpleasant enough to avoid (positive) or valuable enough to avoid losing (negative).

As with reinforcement, there is negative and positive punishment.

NEGATIVE punishment involves removing something good from the dog at the moment the dog performs an undesirable behavior. For example say “Leave it” when the dog chews on the couch.

POSITIVE punishment involves presenting a negative consequence to an undesirable behavior the moment the dog performs the undesirable behavior. A good example of this is: Taking the dog’s favorite ball from sight when the dog leaves a sit-stay position before asked to.

Here are examples of POSITIVE punishers and NEGATIVE punishers:

Squirt of water Ignoring the dog Leash and Collar correctionNo rewardRemoval of the treat or toy

Training Example - Jumping Up On You

Undesirable Behavior:


This is an attention seeking behavior.

POSITIVE Punishment

Squirt water in the dog’s face when he jumps on you and say “Off!”.

NEGATIVE Punishment

Remove attention from the dog for 2 or 3 seconds.This deprives the dog of your attention. Say “Off!”as you turn your back to the dog.

Basic Obedience Training Lessons
History of Dogs
Leadership Rules
Breed Group Characteristic
Tools, Techniques, Treats and Toys
Problem Solving