The #1 Reason Positive Reinforcement Training May Fail Your Dog


Hey there, 

Doggy Dan here,

As a dog trainer, I’m always open to hearing about many different dog training methods…

ESPECIALLY when they focus on kind and gentle tactics to help dogs. 

Lately there’s been a lot of buzz surrounding positive reinforcement training. While the style of this training is mostly good, I’d be doing my followers a disservice if I didn’t bring up a few hesitations I have about the training method.

Now let me be clear…

I am a HUGE fan of training methods that use kind and gentle tactics…and there are some aspects of this training method that I find valuable. However if you’re looking for a long-term training solution, positive reinforcement training techniques aren’t always going to work out. 

That’s why I want to EDUCATE you a bit on positive reinforcement training, and help you understand why I am cautious about this type of dog training. 

What am I cautious about?

Keep reading to find out…

First Things First…What Is Positive Reinforcement Training?


Positive reinforcement training goes by many names…rewards-based training, force-free training, treat training, and more…

The main principle of this method is that you offer your dog REWARDS for desired behaviours. Those rewards can come in the form of treats, praise, toys, etc…but most trainers use high-value treats like small pieces of a hot dog or other specified “training treats”. 

By offering a reward when your pup does something good, the thinking is that your pup will be more likely to repeat that behaviour. 

Over time, your dog will learn that good things come his way when he listens to you. 

By teaching dog obedience this way, you are not disciplining unwanted behaviours, and your dog never feels threatened to behave in a certain way (which is what I like about it). Fido simply learns that he gets nice things when he does what you want him to do.

In a nutshell, the one thing I want you to remember about positive reinforcement training is that it’s based on ADDING something after a good behaviour occurs. 

What can be so bad about that?

Let me explain…

My Biggest Caution about Positive Reinforcement Training


For most dogs, a simple “good boy” just won’t do. 

That’s why positive reinforcement training relies heavily on adding treats or other rewards…and it takes A LOT of patience and repetition to get a dog to change his behaviour this way.

And those rewards need to be given at exactly the right time. If a treat isn’t given QUICKLY, you could accidentally be rewarding another behaviour (that you probably don’t want to be rewarding)! 

That’s why I’m always a bit leery about getting your dog to obey you with rewards. 

And the truth is, sometimes you’re not actually “training” at all. 

Because, well…

Dogs go berserk over treats! I’m sure you’ve seen a well-behaved doggy just lose his mind when he’s met with a delicious hot dog.

That’s one reason I’m always cautious about positive reinforcement training…

…because there are so many factors that must go RIGHT for this type of training to work. 

You need to have rewards available, they need to be timed TO THE SECOND, and you need to do it over and over again…

…and then do it some more.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with using treats, toys, etc. to help with training. But I caution against it being the SOLE METHOD for getting your dog to listen. 

Rewards-based systems simply don’t work…

Why Rewards-Based Method Programs Don’t Work in the Long Run

Positive reinforcement training, or treat training, isn’t a long-term solution for training your dog. 


Because if a dog learns to respond ONLY to rewards it’s likely they will listen to you ONLY when those rewards are available. 

Here’s a great example…

You’re on a road trip and you make a pit stop to let your dog go potty. You open the door and your pup jumps out and runs towards traffic. You have no treats or toys on hand. 

Your dog is now in a very dangerous situation. Despite your calling, he won’t come back to you because there’s NO INCENTIVE for him to do so. 

When you use TREATS as your only training tool, you’re teaching your dog to listen only when there are treats (or whatever their “reward” is) in front of them.

And you can forget about dog obedience when your pup gets distracted.

Because your pup might listen to get those treats inside the house or when you’re alone, but as soon as a squirrel runs past your dog might forget all about those treats and go after the squirrel…

…that’s simply more rewarding for them.

Dogs are self-serving in that way. 

And you aren’t building a solid relationship with your pooch, you’re teaching him to memorize behaviours in exchange for treats. 

It’s like when you study for a test and you just memorize the material instead of truly learning what you need to know. If you’re confronted with a situation where you need to apply what you’ve learned, you won’t be able to. 

That’s just like your dog. 

If they learn that they’ll get a treat for staying off the couch, they’re not truly learning to stay off the couch, they’re just working for that reward!

Luckily, I’ve got a kind and gentle training method that will TEACH your dog obedience.

My Method for Ensuring Your Dog Listens Every Time


Other training methods, including positive reinforcement training, are flawed because they focus on the wrong thing…treats!

If you go this route, you’ll likely have a treat-obsessed pup and you’ll need to lug around treats for the rest of your life (no joke!).

But I’ve got a training method THAT WORKS!

Because it’s based on the psychological triggers and behaviours that all dogs understand. 

It’s a training method that SPEAKS YOUR DOG’S LANGUAGE!

And by doing that, you can ensure that they will learn to listen to you and even understand what you’re trying to tell them. 

All while building your relationship together. 

And you’ll see the results almost immediately…

…not over the course of weeks…

…not after repeatedly giving rewards for months…


It’s called the DogCalming Code™, and I promise you it will help you enjoy being a doggy parent again!


You’ll magically see your furry friend transform before your eyes. 

Because you’re putting in place that missing piece that comes with positive reinforcement training…CONNECTION!

I’ve helped thousands of dog owners reclaim their relationship with my Dog Calming Code™. This program focuses on building your relationship with your dog, setting the stage for every piece of training that follows. 

Whether you need to work on dog obedience, recall, leash pulling , aggression, barking or so many other unwanted behaviours, my program will help you keep your sanity, and your dog will continue to love and respect you. 

Try my Dog Calming Code™ today and get on track to a better-behaved doggy.


Best of luck,

Doggy Dan Signature

~Doggy Dan 🙂

Doggy Dan

Doggy Dan is the founder of The Online Dog Trainer, a wildly successful online training program for dog owners. His goal is to continue to share his unique approach to dog training with like-minded people who wish to make a difference in the world of dogs. His training methods focus on creating and building the connection between dogs and dog owners, and are shared and used around the world.

8 Responses

  1. I am thoroughly enjoying your lessons etc. I am having one problem with one of my dogs, he hates people etc going passed our fence. I have done the calming method of holding his collar under his mouth, he calms then immediately goes back to barking and growling at everything.

    1. Hi Tina, depending on how long you have been using my techniques it can take a little time and patience to work on some of the more intense behaviours. Remember that your dog will see each new person/dog/thing that passes your fence as a different threat and it can lead them to feel the need to alert you. An exercise I use a lot when dogs have a particular area of the home/garden where they focus their barking is Stop, Start, Change Direction. You can use this exercise proactively or reactively and it’s a great way to help remind and reassure dogs that they have no role to play here! My website shows you very clearly how to achieve this…All the Best, Doggy Dan

  2. Hi Doggy Dan,
    I have been using your program for a while now, and I am always referring back to the Dog Calming Code in working with my Shih Tzu, Teddy. It has been enjoyable working with him. I have him registered with the Assistance Dogs of America, and we are taking him to Reahb Centers, Nursing Centers, and Assisted Living Centers to brighten the shut-ins’ day a little bit. They always enjoy watching him do tricks I have taught him.
    Thank you for your help with out training.

    1. Hi Art, what a great thing to do with Teddy! Dogs can be very therapeutic in those types of environments, especially for residents who have owned dogs previously, or who just may love them as well! Keep up the great work, Doggy Dan

  3. I have used the dog calming code on my new rescue who was/is terrified and has been badly treated. It has been invaluable in guiding me and helping my uncertain dog feel certain around me. Thank you so much. I have subscribed and need to learn about house training/potty training now!

    1. Thanks for sharing your story Jaqui! So happy for you that your dog is starting to feel more confident under your guidance. We do have a section on my membership website that covers toilet training for adult dogs, often it can be a behavioural issue rather than the dog simply not knowing what to do…..although if your dog has never lived indoors then this is also possible! Keep up the great work! Doggy Dan

  4. Just started the program with my two dogs – aged 2 and 8. They are both female and got into a fight over a bone. Problem is, one is 120lbs and one is 45. To say that it wasn’t a fair fight is an understatement! I called everywhere for advice. Even my vet had no real solution. In desperation I looked up the Dog Calming code and started it. Guess what? It works!!!! On the first day I noticed a change! Thank you Dan!!

    1. Thanks for the great feedback Annmarie! The solution to our dog’s unwanted behaviour doesn’t need to be complicated, it just needs to be meaningful and relevant to our dogs…that’s what I love so much about our program AND when applied correctly and consistently… it works! So happy for you that things are calming down in your house…Keep up the great work! Doggy Dan

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