Phases of Training for your Dog

By Dana Malone

Each dog is different and I do not believe that one approach or one motivator work for every dog.   In general, a dog that is sensitive or lacks self confidence will not respond well to negative motivation so these should be minimized.  Whereas, a dog that is pushy or dominant is not going to respect the bribery of a treat.


The first step to any training is that you show/teach your dog the meaning of your command(s) through positive motivation. 

The introduction phase should only be done in a calm, quiet area when the dog will not be distracted. 

Find a reward that your dog really likes (food, toy, ball, etc).   When the dog does what you are asking, he will get the reward.  

If your dog does not seem to “get” what you are asking of him, try to break the command down into smaller steps.   


When your dog is consistent with the command(s), the next step is to introduce minor distractions and a combination of positive and negative motivators.

Your dog will be praised and treated (with toys, food, etc) when they have success during minor distractions.  A minor distraction can be something as simple as another person walking through the room without saying anything.

If your dog breaks the command with the distraction they will receive a negative motivator and given the command again as a reminder.   A negative motivator can be a negative noise or a physical correction.


Once your dog has success through the reinforcement phase it is time to increase the distractions.   Success during distractions will help to unify the bond the two of you have.

Types of increased distractions could be some things such as moving out doors to a park type setting, children playing, etc.

Your positive and negative motivations should be increased to match the increased energy of the distractions.