CGC handout


Positive Reinforcement


Rewarding your dog for being "correct" is essential for this method to work.  A dog that is only managed might be acceptable to live with, but he won't understand what you want him to do.  If you reward his correct choices, the light bulb will go on for him, and he will not only understand, but he will be an eager participant in your life together.

Positive Reinforcement rewards your dog for making the right choice.  Thus, your dog will WANT to repeat the choice he made.  We pair the command, with the behavior and then the reward. If your dog makes the wrong choice, there is no reward given, and instead we might use what is called the “No Reward Marker” (NRM) which is usually a verbal marker such as : “oops”, “wrong”, “nope”, “uh oh” or a sound that we would use consistently as the NRM ‘’ack!”


Primary reinforcer = reward:  Anything that the dog likes; anything that is inherently desired by the dog.  These primary reinforcers arise from the dog's basic "drives:"

·         Food drive:  Self-explanatory.  Everything has to eat!  A good trainer will find a long list of the dog's favorite foods.  Then she will rank them from especially valuable to good to OK to so-so, with a number of choices in each rank.  I call them Class A, Class B and Class C treats.  If you mix them up, the dog will be even more intrigued; he will never know what type of treat he's going to get.  This uncertainty makes dogs work harder for a treat. 

·         Play driveToys and fun.  Domesticated animals tend to retain juvenile characteristics; that's what makes them tame.  Dogs will play like puppies for their entire lives, making them kind of like Peter Pan who never grows up into an adult wolf.

·         Prey drive:  Love of chasing things!  Dogs descended from wolves, which are hunters.  Dogs still have strong hunting instincts, known as prey drive, which is what you see when a dog wants to chase a cat, toy, other dog, or you.

·         Pack driveDogs are highly social beings with a strong desire to belong to a social group.   They are happiest when they belong to a pack and have a respected and secure place in the pack.  Luckily, they transfer this drive to humans--your dog wants to be in YOUR pack. 



What is the difference between a reward, a lure or a bribe??


A reward in this kind of training is different than a lure or bribe.  A reward is something the dog gets AFTER she has done something correctly.  A lure or bribe is something you offer BEFORE she performs a desired behavior, and you do this to show her what you want (a lure) or to convince her that whatever else she had in mind is not as good as what you can provide her (a bribe).