August 4, 2016

What Is Positive Training?

Robin here!

If you're a dog owner, even the owner of a very well behaved, eager to please, low key dog, it's still crucial to teach your dog basic commands and manners. You might even teach them a few fun tricks! There are lots of different training methods out there, and though I love trick training, today we'll talk more about teaching your dog basic manners and what positive training is.

First off, let's compare two very different but both very popular dog trainers: Zak George, a positive trainer, and Cesar Millan, a more negative trainer.

How are these methods and trainers different? I'm just going to say the name Fido for an example of a dog.

Let's say you're teaching Fido not to tug on the leash or go after a squirrel, cat, dog, or person on his walks. Cesar Millan would teach Fido that it is bad to pull and that he gets a consequence every time he pulls ahead or tries to go after something.

Zak George would instead praise and give Fido a reward every time he stays by his side and gives him his full attention. After all, why pull or focus on pulling on the leash or barking at a squirrel when you get no reward for it, and you get a reward for staying by your owner's side?

Do you get what I mean? I'm not trying to say bad things about Cesar Millan, I'm just giving a random example of a trainer who follows methods that don't relate to positive training.

If training isn't fun for your dog, how is he going to learn? How he is going to want to please you and how is he going to want to become a perfect pet?

How about this? Let's use the name Angel (something random and cliche to talk about training a puppy (or any dog really) not to chew your belongings.

Cesar Millan would give Angel a consequence every time she chewed on her owner's shoes, couch, etc.

Zak George would redirect Angel with a bone or toy the dog can chew and give the dogs lots of attention and praise when the dog chewed the right item.

Do you get what I mean? Instead of punishing our dogs when they do the wrong things, let's give them rewards when they do the right things. That way, they'll learn that good things happen when they don't pull or don't chew your things or don't do something else you don't want them to do. After all, why do things like that when you get rewarded and have fun when you do the right things?

People have a tendency to tell their dog what NOT to do instead of what TO do. For example, Christmas would pull with all his might on his walks whenever he saw a squirrel. Of course he's not that strong so it's no big deal if he tries to go after a squirrel, I still wanted him to know not to do it. The best way to do so was rewarding him when he stayed by my side and gave me his full attention on his walks.

I didn't want to put too much information in this post, but for those who were wondering basically what positive training is and why it's so much more effective than other training methods, I hope you liked this post! Zak George is my favorite dog trainer, so I definitely recommend you watch his videos on YouTube...they are amazing. Clicker training is one of his main subjects and I support clicker training and I clicker train Chris...if you're wondering what that means, you can click here to read a post I did about clicker training back in March this year.

Christmas is only trained with positive methods, so he loves when it's time for training, whether I'm teaching him a new command or essential manners. He is attentive and drowns out the rest of the world so he can be training with me. He isn't stubborn like most other Dachshunds, especially with clicker training!

Let's show our dogs it's cool to behave instead of telling them it's not cool to misbehave!

NOTE: This photo below can be a good example of positive training! At first I tried teaching Chris NOT to go down the stairs while I got my shoes on to take him for a walk, but I had no results. However, he was quick to learn that he got lots of LOVE and TREATS when he sat and stayed on the stairs. Positive training is great!

P.S. Please come back tomorrow for the Opening Ceremonies of the Pawlympics! This will be a fun next few weeks.


  1. Positive training is THE BEST. Boxers are super smart and VERY sensitive, so we learn much better with positive training.

  2. You are a very good owner and Chris is so lucky
    Hugs madi your bfff

  3. In my opinion, positive training is the only way of training! I would never use any other method. Brilliant article once again!

  4. I woof pawsitive training because I get more treats! I am happy to work for treats. Then I feel good!
    Louis Dog Armstrong

  5. Positive training is definitely the best! It's easy to be good if a treat is involved! :)


  6. Hari OM
    If we stick a spoon of hot porridge into our mouths, we are not likely to repeat that scalding mistake; this is learning by negative response. It only works where there is memory and cognitive ability to retain the experience as a 'do not repeat this action or else'. The basis of this learning is fear - in this example, the fear of a blistered tongue. Negative training of dogs operates on dominance by, and fear of, the human. Might work for some, but is definitely not a good plan over all.

    Every living thing, on the other paw, wants to be happy and happiness for pups is getting treats and being loved. If that is offered as an alternative to chasing the squirrel or swallowing that bee, you can bet for most dogs that is going to be the first choice!

    Just occasionally - and I mean rarely - that doesn't work though. Some children just won't learn until there is a negative consequence (banging the door till the finger gets caught, for example) and there are some dogs who might not either; it may not be most of the time, but there may be one behaviour which over-rides the positive. My Jade became a boundary barker when we moved into a smaller property. It was a great neighbourhood nusiance and the usual positive tricks just wouldn't keep her quiet when that one black dog walked by. One day I surprised her with a bucket of water which she never saw or heard coming. The next day when it started up - I did it again and again she was surprised. On the third day, she was looking for the bucket even as she barked (smart dog you see!)... as soon as she saw that bucket, she stopped. The fourth day the minute she started to move in for the bark routine, I turned the hose on her. Again shocked into silence. Fifth day, same again. On sixth day she bounced up to go bark at the passer-by, but looked at me first... at which stage I pointed to the bucket.

    She lay down again. This was when I backed up the positive behaviour with a reward. So yes, the positive is the best way - but every now and then the short sharp shock works too! YAM xx

  7. WE totally agree... PAWSITIVE Training is the Easiest Fastest and LONG LASTING way to go...

  8. Fantastic post.
    Astro needs very little training,
    there are few things he needs to learn though.
    Thanks for the tips will go watch Zak.
    Linda & Astro

  9. What great info, Robin!! we totally agree about positive training!

  10. Robin, that is some PAWSOME info gurl!!! It also helps if your doggie is food focused. I am not. Butts, Ma has to remember NOT to give me any "no's" or say anythings when I pull to bark at another doggie or tree rat on our walkies. and gives me "good gurls" when I behave...okays, that is rarely, butts we're workin' on it..BOL!!
    Ruby ♥

  11. we are with you on positive training! that is how mom works with me too!

  12. It works with us but one time she gots the water gun out
    Lily & Edward


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