The Science Behind Giving Dogs Treats: Positive Reinforcement.

A few years ago, my little sister had a dog named Chloe. During the time she had Chloe, she could never seem to teach her any tricks. My sister kept on trying to teach the dog different tricks, but each time she failed. So one day I decided to do some research on training dogs to perform certain tasks and I came across some very useful information, which proved to be a success in the end.

Here’s the link that helped me teach my sister’s dog to roll over.


The most interesting aspect of my research was that the treat acted as positive reinforcement, which is a form of appraisal – which is a reward system that makes it more likely for a dog to repeat a particular behavior. John B. Watson actually did various behavioral studies.

Positive reinforcement can be applied to every day life in many ways other than just teaching dogs tricks. Many parents use it when dealing with their children. For example, if a child wants their parents approval, the parent can reward the child for good behavior, then the child will feel the need to keep on behaving accordingly thus decreasing negative tendencies.

On the other hand, behaviorist B.F. Skinner believed that  classical conditioning was too simple and that other outside factors had to be involved. He concluded that there were:

  • Reinforcers- those surrounding an individual and increase the chances of good behavior elicited by them. One can be rewarded by treats, good grades, etc
  • Punishers- those who provide negative consequences for one’s wrong doings. For example, police, judges, etc.
  • Neutral Operants- those who have no effect on the way you behave. They just simply observe or pay no mind to it. This could be people outside of your immediate circle and you have no interaction with


For more info follow this link


2 thoughts on “The Science Behind Giving Dogs Treats: Positive Reinforcement.

  1. kbd5161

    I would have to disagree with the comment above. I don’t think that treats are bad. I would argue that positive reinforcement is essential to training a dog or even raising a child. Positive reinforcement is rewarding someone/thing for good behavior which is how dogs are trained. Using too much positive/negative reinforcement can be a bad thing, obviously, just as too much of anything in life is unhealthy. But overall I see no harm with this practice.

    If you go to any dog training facility you will see that the professionals all use positive and negative reinforcement to train dogs and show them what is right and what is wrong.
    Eventually once the dog is trained, it no longer needs the treats and will listen to its owner simply because it has become habit and expected of the animal. I have experience with this because I own two Labrador dogs, both of which were trained by my family. We used positive and negative reinforcement to train my dogs and now that they are both grown they respect the rules we have set for them and they are very obedient.
    Granted however, there will be some dogs who do not respond well to training. BUT that is in my opinion very rare, because I have had 5 dogs in my lifetime and they have all been properly trained the way described above.

    The same is true for humans and raising a child, which I have just recently learned about in my other class Intro to Human Development and Family Studies. Positive and negative reinforcement is almost always used in raising a child, because the outcomes are almost always positive and lead to productive, responsible children and eventually adult members of society.

    I just can’t understand how the comment above can argue that positive reinforcement is a “plague” that hides failure from “sub par” humans and dogs. I have a feeling that the person above does not have a firm grasp on what positive reinforcement really is and how to use it effectively.

  2. Grant Pyle

    This is a trophy generation. Positive reinforcement is a plague that we use to hide failure from those who are sub par, including dogs. Treats are bad.

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