Training Your Puppy Using Food & Praise

By Sally Gutteridge | Posts

There are a number of different ways to approach training your puppy. If you have already tried harsher methods to manage behavior, like choke chains or shock collars, you may have seen a small degree of success. But you may have also noticed that your dog became frightened, anxious, and even angry during the training sessions.

The truth is that cruel and harsh training methods that employ punishment will only cause further behavioral problems in the long run when training your puppy.

If a dog is not trained with positive reinforcement and positive association using rewards, he will not understand that he has done anything wrong. A dog trained using punishment, like a shock collar, will live in constant fear that he will be punished – but he won’t know why.

In order to successfully approach training your puppy, use positive reinforcement to open the lines of communication. Positive reinforcement will utilize toys, treats, and praise to teach your dog when he has done something good. Every time that your dog does something good, like uses the toilet outdoors or sits on command, he will be rewarded with a treat, toy, or praise.

Remember, dogs are eager to please. Once your dog has a firm grasp of this positive association, he will quickly put the pieces together to understand that his good behavior is rewarded. And when he misbehaves, this negative behavior can be gently corrected and directed into good behavior that is then reinforced with a reward.

Positive Reinforcement versus Punishment Training

Professional dog trainers that use positive reinforcement believe that it is not only the most effective training method, but it is much more pleasant for both the owner and the dog when training your puppy.

According to the Humane Society, dogs are driven by two things:

1.    Praise
2.    Food

It really is that simple. And the reason that positive reinforcement training is so effective in training your puppy as opposed to using punishment is because you will attract your puppy to good behavior because he wants more praise and food.

A positive reward makes a dog more likely to repeat good behavior.

Here is a basic example of positive reinforcement for training your puppy in action:

•    The trainer patiently waits for his puppy to sit, and when he does, rewards him with a delicious treat.

This positive reinforcement method for training your puppy can be used to reinforce a basic connection between good behavior and obedience with a reward.

Here is a basic example of negative reinforcement for training your puppy:

•    To teach his puppy to sit, the trainer attaches a leash to the dog’s collar and pulls up until the dog sits down. As soon as the puppy sits down, the discomforting pull on the leash is released.

This negative reinforcement is used to teach a puppy that he can avoid pain if he completes a command successfully.

Do you see the difference? Although both techniques for training your puppy may motivate your dog to do the same thing, negative reinforcement will cause your dog to become afraid and unstable. Your dog will live in constant fear of pain or punishment if he does not behave appropriately.

Positive reinforcement can be used for training your puppy to stop bad behavior as well. As an example, if the puppy starts to pull on the leash, you can stop in your tracks and teach the dog that you will not continue walking until he stops pulling. And if he is walking nicely without pulling, he will be rewarded with a treat and praise to reinforce his action.

For both training and punishment, positive reinforcement for training your puppy is the best choice by far to improve your relationship and encourage good behavior.


1.    “Dogs: Positive Reinforcement Training: The Humane Society of the United States.” The Humane Society of the United States: The Humane Society of the United States. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Dec. 2011.

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