Dog Praise and Reward the Key Tools to Dog Training

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Where does Dog Praise and Reward Come From?

Dog Praise and Reward! When you’re training your dog, there are two very different mentalities:

  1. You can use positive reinforcement (i.e. encourage good behavior)
  2. You can punish bad behavior
Dog Praise and Reward

Many trainers have debates on which is more effective and better to use for your dog, but it seems that the methods that have the greatest success and stick around the longest involve some sort of positive reinforcement of good behaviors.

How We Do It at Athenas Pets

At Athenas Pets, we like to stick to the positive stuff! We use two simple terms in every training tip, guide and course on our website to stay consistent and make your training experience as amazing as possible!

All our tricks to teach your dog use this positive reinforcement.


Whenever we use the word “praise” in any of our trainings, what we mean is that you should show your dog some love! Some of the common ways to do this is are:

  • To say, “Good Girl!” or, “Good Boy!”
  • Pet your dog happily and maybe in their favorite spot
  • Figure out what your dog likes and do whatever that may be

The one thing that you DO NOT want to do when we tell you to “praise” your dog is to give them a treat. That is specifically reserved for our next term.

Dog Being Praised

Praise is a GREAT way to reinforce the positive behaviors your dog has. For example, when they do something you really like, it is important to consistently give praise so that your dog starts to associate the praise you are giving with their behaviors.

This will make them want to do those behaviors more and more to receive praise because, who doesn’t love some praise?


Every so often, your dog does something truly awesome that warrants a little more than praise. Sometimes, a behavior is something so desirable, that you want to technically “bribe” your dog to do it more often. One of the best ways to do this is with a tasty treat!

Dog Being Given Treat

Whenever we use the word “reward” in any of our trainings, what we mean is to give your pup a treat. Now, there can be different levels of rewards in different situations, but in most cases, any treat will do.

In those tricky situations, follow these guidelines:

  • Your dog did the awesome behavior with little difficulty – give them a regular treat
  • Dog was hesitant to do the awesome behavior – give them a better treat
  • Your dog literally needs to be forced to do the awesome behavior – give them an even better treat

Dog Reward – Like Overbooked Aircraft?

I’m sure you’ve seen something similar if you’ve ever been at the gate of an overbooked aircraft. The attendant might first ask if anyone wants to volunteer to take another flight.

This can be equated to praise; you might not be explicitly getting anything in return, but you just performed the airline’s desired behavior out of courtesy which in itself can make us feel good.

If no one volunteers, the airline might offer a small reward. If there are takers, then there is no reason to offer a better reward, but if no one is biting, the reward gets bigger and bigger until someone finally decides that they’re willing to perform the behavior that the airline wants them to perform which is to take another flight.

Dog Treats

It is the same way with training your dog. If a simple treat works, there is no need to get elaborate in order to get the behavior that you want. If the behavior that you want seems to be very hard to get your dog to do, you might want to try some tastier treats!

As always, you know your dog best and by trying different treats out, you will find the one(s) that your pup likes the best!

However, in most cases, a very basic treat is fine. You will be surprised how easy it is to train your dog once you have the proper guidance and once you decide to get started!

Dog Praise and Reward

Real Example – Potty Bell Training

We thought it would be helpful to include an example of how dog praise and reward are used inside one of our trainings. This is exactly how we use praise and reward to teach dogs to ring a bell when they need to go outside and go potty.

The graphic below helps narrow down what to do in certain situations:

Praise and Reward Matrix
    2. Just REWARD; No PRAISE
    3. Just PRAISE; No REWARD
    4. Both PRAISE and REWARD

Dog Praise and Reward – Final Thoughts

Although we went into detail on the two terms “praise” and “reward”, they are actually very basic.

All you need to really take away from this is that when your dog does something that you like, you should praise them, just like when you do something at work that your boss likes, they say thank you or recognize your hard work (or at least they should).

If the action that your dog did was awesome, make sure to reward your pup to show them that you really want them to keep behaving that way. Sticking to the work example, this might be something like receiving a bonus for doing something exceptional.

At the end of the day, you just want to find a way to properly encourage your dog’s good behavior, so they keep doing more of what you like, and end up stopping their bad behaviors because they aren’t encouraged to continue engaging in them.

Like with all of our training tips, we like to remind you to be patient, be positive, and have fun training your dog!

As always, contact us if you have any questions or comments.


Kevin Larrivee

Co-Founder – Athenas Pets

P.S. You may be interested in our new Dog Training eBook with an Easy 3 Step Method to 74 Different Dog Tricks you can teach your dog.

New Dog Training eBook

Kevin Larrivee

Kevin Larrivee

Kevin is a life-long dog lover who loves sharing his dog training experience with others. Kevin finds the most excitement in answering questions that average dog owners have, especially if he doesn't know the answer! Continuous learning is what it is all about!

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