What is positive training ?

I will try to define what is positive training here because this is very important to me because it seems more than important that all dog owners know and use it. In addition, the image of positive education is quite negative in France and in the world because it is still little known and therefore either people are in traditional methods and don’t want to change and questioning, or people think that for their dog it will not work .

What many people think about positive training :

  • the positive education method is a method where everything is allowed for the dog
  • we spend our time giving him treats for anything and everything
  • it is a method only for small and « easy » dogs
  • the dog will believe that he is the « leader of the pack » and therefore take over

And many others … As soon as we talk about the positive, the critics fuse, without being scientifically founded ..

While it is very different … It is an educational approach so the goal is training but in a respectful way where the dog has limits for its safety and a harmonious relationship between human and dog. The goal is to have a relationship of trust and respect the singularity of the dog while having rules / limits for his safety.

To me, in this method, the most important is:

respect for the dog in its singularity, we do not try to have a docile dog who fears his human, we want a dog with a personality and defects that will be corrected to the maximum in a good mood.

the coherence: we try to be on the same wavelength, we remain stable in what we learn to the dog and we use the same verbal or non-verbal signals → no need to use force, to break the dog, just consider him as a partner who wants to learn

the relationship of trust: the dog is a partner and the human is the referent, we must not force him to answer our requests but on the contrary he must do this for pleasure; we want the dog to listen to us but we are here to understand it, adapt to its way of communication and life

human-dog mutual understanding is paramount. The dog is not an inferior, far from it, it is a team-mate in training ; So you have to know the dog: the « calming signals », the concept of leadership, the fact that the dog is not a wolf etc. and observe your own dog(s)

⇒ it works for everyone: anxious dogs, aggressive dogs, etc. especially for dogs who have socialization difficulties and lack of confidence in the human.

In this approach we use the positive reinforcement, that is to say that we encourage the good behaviors and we reward them so that the dog repeats them because it finds an advantage there. Motivation and therefore good mood are the key to this approach. The dog does what is asked of him for pleasure. To stay in a positive goal, we ignore bad behavior and don’t punish them. The objective is also that the dog is socialize as much as possible to his environment whether it’s human, animal or not animated.



This method is strongly opposed to traditional methods since it offers training without constraint or moral or physical suffering. In addition, she rejects notions of hierarchy and dominance from scientific research (see article « my dog ​​is dominant« )

This method is based, as the behavioral method in human psychology on scientific facts and research that are becoming more numerous.

Ben Alexander et al 2011; Haverbeke et al 2008; Haverbeke et al 2010 -> Positive methods increase the performance of dogs at work

Arhant et al 2010; Herron et al 2009 -> the positive method causes a decrease in behavioral problems

Ben Alexander et al 2011; Hiby et al 2004 -> the positive method allows an increase of the general obedience of the dog

Rooney & Cowan 2011 -> with positive methods dogs have a better learning ability and are less fearful

Haverbeke et al 2010 -> dogs are less frightened by their owner

N. J. Rooney & S. Cowan, “ Training methods and owner-dog interactions: Links with dog behaviour and learning ability ”Applied Animal Behaviour Science (2011) –> Reward-based dog training has positive effects on their behavior and increases their learning abilities. Indeed, dogs that are educated by reward-based and patience-based methods, interact more with people they do not know, are more players and perform better when they need to learn a new exercise. compared to dogs educated by physical reprimand

The most positive point is that the results are long term. Indeed, traditional methods can be effective in the short term, however, a bridled dog is a dog that can potentially be dangerous for him or for others.

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