The Power of Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is about more than simply giving your dog a treat when they perform a behavior correctly. Positive reinforcement encompasses how you think about and interact with your dog on a daily basis. The word yes is positive. Your voice rises in tone when you use it putting a smile in your voice. The word no is negative, you lower your voice when you use it putting a frown in your voice. Dogs react to these verbal “smiles” and “frowns” much as people do. Interacting with someone who smiles often is much more fun than interacting with someone who frowns all the time. Smiling people draw others to them while frowning people chase others away. Positive reinforcement is about teaching yourself to interact positively with your dog even when you would rather be saying “no” or “bad dog.” For example, if your dog is happily jumping all over you (a pleasant experience for her but an unpleasant one for you) you have several choices regarding how to react. You can say no putting a frown into your voice and turning the situation into a negative interaction or you can say “sit please” putting a smile into your voice and then cap the situation off with the positive interaction your dog is craving when she sits. The jumping is over and you successfully turned a potentially negative interaction into a strongly positive one.