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What is Positive Reinforcement?

Positive Reinforcement or +R is a term used to describe the mechanism by which behaviors are learned and repeated. Positive Reinforcement simply means giving the dog something that they like immediately following a behavior that you like. Each time a behavior is rewarded, the chances of that behavior happening again increase!

Does Positive Reinforcement work?

ABSOLUTELY!!! Positive Reinforcement is not a method of training, it is a scientific term for one of the ways that people and animals learn to perform and repeat behaviors: If something tastes good, you will probably eat it again. A mosquito bite itches and you scratch it, even when you know that scratching it makes it worse, it is hard to stop! ALL behaviors that are repeated are reinforced by something- whether by getting something that wasn't already available (food, money, space, toys) or by stopping something uncomfortable or aversive (an itchy mosquito bite). When we use positive reinforcement to train our dogs, we set them up to be happy and well adjusted because the consequence for their good behavior is something that they want! Using management like leashes, gates and crates to prevent them from making mistakes until they know exactly what they should do helps them earn more rewards and learn to navigate the world confidently and without fear. 

What about punishment and corrections? I need to fix this behavior NOW!

Imagine you have a mosquito bite and it is REALLY itchy. You KNOW that scratching it will make it itch more- that is a consequence that SHOULD be punishing- you SHOULD know better than to scratch...but chances are that at least some of the time, you do it anyway. Why? Because the immediate consequence is more salient than the punishment that occurs down the line. We as humans can make that connection and eventually we might learn to stop scratching mosquito bites, but dogs aren't capable of making those long-range associations. For dogs, everything is immediate, so if they scratch an itch and it makes them feel better, or pee on your rug or steal your hamburger- all of those things are immediately and tangibly rewarding. Adding punishment after the fact just leads to superstitious behavior like peeing where you can't see them or only stealing food when your back it turned. 

If your timing isn't PERFECT with positive reinforcement, you shouldn't be trying to use punishment because the chances are, something will go wrong. Instead, prevent behavior problems by using management- if your dog barks at people in the hallway, keep them away from the door and use a fan to drown out the noise. If your dog chews on things they shouldn't, use a crate, gate or leash to keep them away, and if you do catch them gnawing on your table leg, just redirect them onto something appropriate and make sure that new behavior is REALLY fun.

What can I expect from working with Sundog?

You can expect a happier, healthier dog! 

At Sundog, we believe that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to your pet's needs, so each training, exercise and enrichment plan is constructed specifically to meet the needs of your dog and your family.


We are committed to using the most effective, scientifically proven methods of handling and communication while giving dogs the opportunity to meet all of their needs. We will never stick you with generic suggestions for tools, equipment or training exercises. Instead, we carefully observe your dogs behaviors and guide you towards the methods, tools, toys, food and exercises and activities that work best for your dog over time- not just in the moment. You can expect detailed daily reports and active support and communication from our pet care and training team. 


We aim to support the growth of physically and mentally healthy dogs, and that means paying attention to the dog in front of us and collaborating with you to make sure you are seeing the results you want. 

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