Positive Reinforcement-Based Dog Training
Traditional training methods, which use "jerk and praise" techniques, rely primarily on fear and pain and the avoidance of both to motivate the dog to comply with commands. These methods were used in the military - hence the tradition of dogs heeling on the left, so you can carry your gun in your right hand. Since then, many trainers have changed their methods to use positive reinforcement, the desire for good things rather than the avoidance of bad things, as their primary training tool. Many of the techniques we use came from knowledge gained from training marine mammals - after all, using punishment with a killer whale is simply not a safe option.

It's true that it is possible to train a dog using aversive techniques, but the affect that the fear and pain has on your relationship with your dog must be taken into consideration. Most of us have dogs because we want to connect with them, and experience the unconditional love they offer. It is much easier to connect to your dog in an environment full of trust, generosity, and empathy than one clouded with confusion, frustration, and fear.


I don't want my dog's skills to be dependent on treats.
A concern that many people have with using positive reinforcement is the reliability of behaviors trained using food rewards. Instead, we would like to our dogs to comply with our requests because they love us. Think of the best boss you've ever had. You really liked them, and you may have even loved them, but how long would you have continued to work if they stopped paying you? No matter how much you love your job, you still look forward to days off, when you can do what you want, rather than what your job requires. When we give our dogs a command, we are asking them to drop whatever they're doing and comply with our wants. In order for most dogs to think that it is worthwhile to leave the smell they are sniffing, or their soft spot on their dog bed, we need something more to offer than "good dog, Fido." After you've proven yourself to be a generous, interesting trainer, your dog will be motivated to respond to your requests even where there is no obvious reward present. Thus your relationship is built by establishing a reward history. Once you have worked to establish this working relationship with your dog, food rewards become intermittent.


How does it work?
Any behavior that is rewarded is repeated. To train, we deliver or withhold rewards to influence which behaviors are repeated. This method has two main parts: the behavior, and the reward. The behavior is anything your dog does: sitting, watching, laying down, running, walking, wagging, jumping, biting, digging, peeing, pooping, eating, drinking, barking, sleeping. The reward is anything your dog likes: cheese, hot dogs, cheerios, walking, barking, laying on the bed, watching squirrels, and chasing balls. The key to success is finding out what is rewarding to your dog at any given point in time, in any environment, because it changes. If you know what your dog wants, you can use that knowledge to deliver or withhold the reward based on your dog's behavior. If your dog jumps on you, chances are he wants attention. If you withhold your attention (any eye contact, touching, or speaking) until your dog has all four feet on the ground, you are training your dog to get the reward he wants (attention) by exhibiting a behavior (staying on the ground).