Discussions, Dog Training

Negative Vs. Positive Reinforcement

There are two types of dog training techniques:

  • Positive Reinforcement
  • Negative Reinforcement

Positive Reinforcement is like it sounds, its POSITIVE. There’s no yelling, no hitting, actually no force at all. Most trainers who teach with this method use flat buckle collars and some sort of reward. The reward usually consist of something positive, like yummy treats or belly rubs. This type of training requires patience, sometimes the results take time.


Though, Negative Reinforcement might be faster and most times easier then the other type of training, in the long run, its not as great.


If you haven’t put it together yet, Negative Reinforcement is the opposite of Positive Reinforcement. Negative Reinforcement enforces things like punishing the animal for doing the wrong thing. The punishment ranges from person to person. The most talked about cases are the ones where the animal is actually abused, being hit or kicked. But that’s not the only kind of Negative Reinforcement. Some trainers use things like prong or shock collars and use a sort of touch reactive training that is also put under the category of negative dog training. Even if you just give a firm “no” after your dog has behaved badly is considered Negative Reinforcement.

Negative Reinforcement is, like I explained above, sometimes easier then Positive Reinforcement. Imagine coming home from work, tired, exhausted, and you get a whiff of something strong. So strong and distinctive in fact that you cringe and immediately look down at the carpet to see a big pile of brown right before you turn to see your ten month old puppy come running to greet you, happy as can be. In this instance, what would you do? Yell? Smack your dog across the rear? Rub its face in the mess it made?

Its hard not to get angry. You wouldn’t be human if you at least sighed and stomped off to get the cleaning supplies while biting your tongue to stop you from going off on your pet. I could write an entire five hundred page book on timing during dog training but I’ll spare you the time and just say its very important and vital during both positive and negative reinforcement training.


Now that you know a bit about both types of dog training, you might be wondering: Which is better?

I personally use more Positive Reinforcement, though I do use a bit of the Negative Reinforcement as well. I usually give a small “nope” or shake my head when my dog (Emma) gives the wrong behavior. She usually understands that she didn’t do the right thing by me just looking at her.

I have used choke chains (not as terrible as it sounds) and head halters before as well. Both are considered negative training tools. And I find the results just the same as a flat buckle collar.*

I personally have no issue with Negative Reinforcement training as long as the dog is not being harmed in any way. If it works for you and your dog, why should it be a bad thing?


*I have a post about types of collars here if you want to know more.


Now, this leaves me curious. Which training technique do you use? Do you combine both and make your own style? Please, tell me in the comments below! I’d love to hear.



Share This Too...