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To Promote Positive Reinforcement Dog Training, Teach, Engage, and Amplify

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Three tips to encourage and support people to use reward-based training methods with their dog or other pet.


By Zazie Todd, PhD

How can we encourage more people to use positive reinforcement to train their dog?

Those of you who know me know that this question is often on my mind. It’s because positive reinforcement is good for animal welfare and fun for the dog. I explore some of this in the post that kicked off the very first Train for Rewards blog party, seven reasons to use reward-based training methods. I even wrote an article for the Journal of Veterinary Behavior about the barriers to the adoption of humane dog training methods, which you can read about in why don’t more people use positive reinforcement to train dogs.

Today, I want to share three tips that we all can use to help encourage and support people to use reward-based training methods with their dog, or other animal (because reward-based training is for all our pets).



Teach people how to use positive reinforcement succe…

The Train for Rewards Photo Post 2019

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Do you use rewards to train your dog or cat (or other pet)? Show your support for reward-based training by posting a photo of your pet to the pet-ition here.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

By popular request, this post is part of the Train for Rewards blog party hosted here at Companion Animal Psychology.

Add your pet’s photo, then share on social media with the hashtag #Train4Rewards.


You are invited to the Inlinkz link party! Click here to enter

The photo link-up is open until 4pm Pacific time on Thursday 20th June, when the full list of Train for Rewards posts is available.

How to add the photo
Click where it says 'add your link' and follow the instructions to add your photo (no link is required). You will have up to 50 characters for your pet’s name. The link-up only allows 3 photos per person.

If you make a mistake, you can delete the entry and start again.

You have to give your email address, but it will not be used except if needed to communicate about the photo link-up. You can read…

"Bad Dog?" The Psychology and Importance of Using Positive Reinforcement

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Calling a dog a "bad dog" very often displays a lack of knowledge about dog behavior, says Marc Bekoff in this essay on the importance of positive reinforcement in dog training.

This guest post by Marc Bekoff is part of the Train for Rewards blog party.


"Eugene, you're a bad dog. Why did you try to fight with Melvin?" "Monica, why did you attack Rosie? Bad dog!" "Bad dog, bad dog, bad dog! Good dogs don't do that." "My dog Joey was badly abused by other dogs and humans when he was young and learned that he had to fight back. He was doing what came naturally. Now that I've worked hard to socialize him to other dogs and to humans and to praise him when he doesn't fight back, he's learned that fighting fire with fire doesn't work. I always told him he's a 'good dog' when he didn't fight back." "I learned that letting Henry know he was a 'good dog' when he wasn't reactive was the best…

The Train for Rewards Blog Party 2019

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The 2019 Train for Rewards blog party celebrates reward-based training of dogs, cats, and other pets.  Join in the fun, find new bloggers to read, and share a photo of your pet on social media with the hashtag #Train4Rewards.

By Zazie Todd, PhD

Take Part in Train for RewardsRead the blog posts, comment on them, and share your favourite posts with the hashtag #Train4RewardsAdd your pet's photo to the photo postAfterwards, reward yourself for participating with a piece of cake, some chocolate, a glass of wine, a walk on the beach, or whatever makes you happy. 
You are invited to the Inlinkz link party! Click here to enter



Confidence and Emotions Affect People's Use of Positive Reinforcement to Train Reactive Dogs

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Confidence in being able to use the technique, perceptions of the effectiveness of positive reinforcement, and the emotional toll of having a reactive dog all influence people’s choice of dog training method, a new study shows.


By Zazie Todd, PhD

If you’ve never had a reactive dog, then you’ve not experienced those grim moments of hanging on to the leash while your dog lunges and growls at other people or dogs. Feelings of anxiety and embarrassment are often compounded by negative reactions and comments from other people. But while reward-based methods are the best way to resolve behaviour issues, they aren’t always what people use.

New research from Dr. Emma Williams and Dr. Emily Blackwell (University of Bristol) looks at the factors that affect people’s decisions about the dog training methods to use with their reactive dog. The study shows the importance of dog trainers building their clients’ confidence and abilities to use positive reinforcement has important implications for how…

Companion Animal Psychology Book Club June 2019

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“How did wolves evolve into dogs? Persuasively."--Kirkus Reviews.



By Zazie Todd, PhD

This month the Companion Animal Psychology Book Club is reading Once a Wolf: The Science Behind our Dogs Astonishing Genetic Evolution by Bryan Sykes.

From the back cover,
"The author of Seven Daughters of Eve returns with a lively account of how all dogs are descended from a mere handful of wolves.  How did wolves evolve into dogs? When did this happen, and what role did humans play? Oxford geneticist Bryan Sykes used the full array of modern technology to explore the canine genetic journey that likely began when a human child decided to adopt a wolf cub thousands of years ago. In the process, he discovered that only a handful of genes have created the huge range of shapes, sizes, and colors in modern dogs. Providing scientific insight into these adaptive stages, Sykes focuses attention on our own species, and how our own evolution from (perhaps equally aggressive) primates was enhanced by t…

How Hungarian Dog Owners Perceive "Dominance" Between Their Dogs

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New research investigates how Hungarian dog owners with two or more dogs describe “dominance” in the dogs’ relationship, and which pairings are most likely to involve conflict.


By Zazie Todd, PhD

“Dominance” is a loaded word in dog training. A new scientific paper by Enikő Kubinyi and Lisa Wallis (Family Dog Project, Eötvös Lorand University) begins by noting how contested the term is in ethology and psychology, before reporting on an investigation into the factors that influence Hungarian dog owners’ use of the term to describe the relationship between two of their dogs.

They say the results show the Hungarian public’s use is broadly in line with that of ethologists. They also found that when two dogs in the same household are male and female, a spayed female dog is more likely to be considered dominant and to behave in ways that might cause conflict between the two dogs.

Dominance means different things in different circumstances, and it’s important to note this study is not about dog…