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Get Caught Doing Something Right: Positive Reinforcement at Work

Surprise! Your boss just gave you $1000 for turning your project in early. Wait, what just happened? It's positive reinforcement!

You were caught doing something right.

You were just randomly reinforced for doing something your boss wants to see more often. The surprise was so nice that you decide to start turning all your projects in early.

This works for dogs too! Reinforce any behavior that you want to see more frequently. For example, if your dog is resting peacefully during TV time, drop a treat between his front paws. If you come home from an errand and your dog doesn't jump up on you, give her a bonus treat in addition to the friendly pets she always gets when all four feet are on the floor.

Fun ways to play:

  • Each day set 10 treats somewhere you can see and easily grab them - maybe a glass jar on the counter. Make it a game to catch your dog doing 10 things right each day. Notice that after playing for a couple of days that it is becoming very easy to find your dog doing things you love.

  • Give each family member three treats. Everyone has to spend the treats on good behavior by dinner. Talk about which behaviors everyone chose to reinforce during mealtime.

  • Tape a baggie of treats to the garage door. Every time someone enters the house - grab a treat and cue your dog to sit when you enter. Soon enough you may not even have to give the cue!

  • Have everyone in the family take turns coming up with creative ideas - have one of your kids pick a behavior to reinforce then everyone has to do just that. Even fun behaviors work here - catch your dog sneezing, then treat right afterwards. When you see sneezing increase, add "ACHOO!" right before your dog looks like she's about to sneeze, then give her a treat afterwards. Voila! You have a fun party trick!

Get creative and most importantly - Have Fun!

Happy Dog
Wigge Butt

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