Down Dog, Up Dog

How positive reinforcement transforms lives 

Tera and I have seen the transformation that takes place when dogs are trained using positive reinforcement so often, we’ve given it a name: “down dog, up dog.” Dogs that come to us “down” are shut down, scared, or uncertain. Then, after being introduced to positive training, they become “up dogs” — more relaxed, joyful, playful, outgoing dogs who enjoy learning and being with their pet parents.

What’s the difference between positive reinforcement and punishment?

Reinforcement strengthens or increases behaviors. Anything you want your dog to do more of, you should reinforce. If your dog comes to you, praise, pet, let him or her go play again, give a treat. If s/he likes those things s/he will come to you more often. 

Punishment weakens or decreases behaviors. Your dog barks, you bop her on the nose, squirt him with a squirt bottle, or drop a shaker can full of pennies. If the timing was right, s/he may bark less. A potential side effect of punishment is that unless your timing is impeccable, you can accidentally punish the wrong behavior, or worse, create other problems.

Which is better for me?

We at Training Spot are committed to using the most effective and modern training methods with dogs (and their humans). We love and use positive reinforcement. It is more fun for both you and your dog, strengthens your relationship, builds trust and mutual respect, is easy for the whole family to participate in (including kids), teaches your dog what you DO want them to do, and is scientifically proven to be more effective than using punishment.


Great books on positive training


The Power of Positive Dog Training by Pat Miller

Positive training tools to share a lifetime of fun, companionship, and respect with your dog. Plus: information on the importance of observing, understanding, and reacting appropriately to your dog's body language; instruction on how to phase out the use of a clicker or treats to introduce more advanced training concepts; a diary to track progress; suggestions for treats your dog will respond to; and a glossary of training terms.

Plenty in Life is Free by Kathy Sdao

In this new book, renowned dog trainer Kathy Sdao reveals how her life journey and her decades of experience training marine mammals and dogs led her to reject a number of sacred cows including the leadership model of dog training. She describes her own training philosophy, emphasizing developing partnerships in which humans and dogs exchange reinforcements and continually cede the upper hand to one another.

Jennifer Biglan, owner of Training Spot in Eugene, OR, is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner in Eugene, OR. She knew she wanted to work with animals at a young age. After graduating from the U of O and volunteering at a dog shelter, she found her calling. Jennifer is well known through the community, and by many area veterinarians for her work in solving behavior problems, and she has extensive knowledge and background training dogs. Learn more about Training Spot at or e-mail