No matter which method of training you use, whether it’s positive reinforcement (Clicker training) or punishment based methods the three laws of learning remain the same.


  • Rewarded behaviour gets repeated.
  • Ignored behaviour stops.
  • Once a behaviour is in Place, variable rewards will strengthen the behaviour.

Whenever we attempt to change behaviour, in ourselves or in our dog’s we are using these laws, like it or not, whether we know it or not. The goal of training using positive reinforcement is to get what we want faster and without causing distress. The first rule of training is FIRST DO NO HARM.

In order to be successful in training your dog and changing or modifying behaviour using Operant Conditioning (Clicker training) you must :

  • Have good timing.
  • Be clear and consistent with your expectations and signals.
  • Provide the correct rate of reinforcement.

Mastering these three simple skills will turn any dog owner into a competent trainer and your dog will know that you are reliable and somebody to trust. The very fact that you are reading this says that you take training your dog seriously and you understand the importance of what is for your dog the learning of much needed skills to lead a long and happy life, it also says a lot about you to.

Find the time train a few minutes every day and you will have a friend for life, take every opportunity to lay down the foundation behaviours such as the basic manners of “Sit” “ Down”  “Stay”  and walking on a loose leash using only positive methods.

When training whether it’s a 12 week old Yorkshire Terrier puppy, an 18 month old ‘bouncy’ Springer Spaniel or a ‘Drag you down the street’ 4 year old Golden Labrador, I always start by adopting THE PREMACK PRINCIPLE which was developed by David Premack


The Premack Principle states that high probability behaviour reinforces low probability behaviour.


Essentially it means “Eat your broccoli and you can have your ice cream”.

To understand this in terms of dog training High Probability Behaviours are What Your Dog Wants  Low Probability Behaviours are WHAT YOU WANT.

Use the opportunity to engage in something that the dog wants, so you get to reward a behaviour that you want. For example, you are walking your dog on the leash in the park and in the distance is ‘Bruce’ (your dogs playmate) running free chasing birds, leaves, anything that moves, your dog wants to get some of the action (the ice cream) and starts to pull on the leash. Since you control access to the freedom your dog want use it. Wait till the dog stops pulling then ask for a learned behaviour (the broccoli) which could be a sit, then mark it, and release your dog. No other reward is required.

Training is about providing information to dogs so they can perform the desired behaviour on their own, the clearer this information is the better the training will proceed. Good training is based on clear communication with no ambiguity or uncertainty about what exactly earned the reward.

The profound power of clicker training is based on this one element: communication. The click offers the clearest, unambiguous communication, telling the dog the precise behaviour that earned the reward.

obedience dog training