If you’re a dog owner, you’re probably familiar with positive reinforcement – rewarding your dog for desired behaviours to increase the likelihood of those behaviours being repeated. However, you may not be as familiar with the Premack Principle, which is another helpful tool in dog training. The Premack principle states that a more desirable behaviour can be used to reinforce less desirable behaviour. In other words, you can use something your dog enjoys (like playing fetch) to encourage them to do something they may not enjoy as much (like coming when called). This blog post will discuss how to use the Premack principle to train your dog!

Introducing the Premack Principle

In psychology, the Premack principle is the idea that people are more likely to perform a less desirable task if it is a means to an end of something they really want to do. In other words, we are more likely to do something we don’t really want to do if it leads us closer to something we really want. The principle is named after David Premack, who first proposed it in his 1958 article “Reinforcement Theory.”

The principle has often been used with children and animals to get them to do things they may not be thrilled about, such as eating their vegetables or going to bed on time. But it can also be applied to adults in many different settings. For example, you might use the Premack principle to motivate yourself to work out by telling yourself that you can watch your favourite TV show only after you’ve completed your workout.

The principle is based on the concept of reinforcement, which is any type of reward that increases the likelihood of the desired behaviour being repeated. For example, the Premack principle is a specific type of reinforcement called positive reinforcement. It involves introducing something pleasant (watching TV) after the desired behaviour (working out) has been carried out.

In contrast, negative reinforcement involves removing something unpleasant (like the alarm clock going off) after the desired behaviour has been carried out (like getting out of bed).

Using the Premack Principle to train your dog

The Premack principle is a simple but powerful way to train your dog. Basically, it states that you can use a high-value activity to reinforce a low-value activity. So, for example, if your dog loves to play fetch, you can use that desire to reinforce basic obedience commands like sit and stay. So every time your dog sits or waits on command, you follow up with a game of fetch.

Over time, your dog will learn that sitting and staying are rewarding behaviours because they lead to the thing they want most – a fun game of fetch. The Premack principle is a great way to train your dog because it takes advantage of their natural desires to help them learn new things.

This principle works incredibly well when training gundogs because they are already motivated to retrieve. By linking the behaviour you want (sitting) with the thing they love (retrieving), you can quickly and easily teach your dog to sit on command.

The Premack principle is also helpful for teaching dogs to come when called because it allows you to link the behaviour with something they enjoy, like a game of fetch or a walk in the park.

Tips for making the most of the Premack Principle

There are a few things to keep in mind when using the Premack principle to train your dog. First, make sure that the high-value activity is something that your dog truly enjoys and is willing to work for. For example, if your dog isn’t interested in retrieving, then using that activity as a reward isn’t going to be very effective.

Second, it’s essential to start with small steps and work your way up. If you try to link too many behaviours with the high-value activity, your dog will likely get overwhelmed and confused.

And finally, be consistent! For example, if you only use the Premack principle sometimes, your dog won’t understand that it’s a rule they need to follow all the time.

How to use the Premack Principle

The Premack Principle is a simple but effective way to train your gun dog. Also known as ‘grandma’s law’, the Premack Principle states that “the opportunity to perform a high-frequency behaviour (such as retrieving) is a reinforcer for a low-frequency behaviour (such as sitting).” In other words, if you offer your dog the opportunity to do something they love ( retrieve) after they have done something you want them to do (sitting), they are more likely to repeat the desired behaviour.

The Premack Principle can also be used to extinguish unwanted behaviours. For instance, if your dog jumps up on people when they come into the house, don’t give them any attention until they are calm and sitting down. By denying them the reinforcement of attention, you can discourage the behaviour over time.

The Premack Principle is a versatile tool that can be used in many different ways to train dogs effectively. Whether you’re trying to encourage the desired behaviour or discourage an unwanted one, harnessing the power of reinforcement can help you achieve your goals.

Premack’s Principle And Positive Reinforcement

Dogs are often called (wo)man’s best friend and for a good reason. They provide us with companionship, protection and, in some cases, even therapeutic benefits. In return, we owe them to provide a loving home and take care of their needs. One of the most important aspects of responsible dog ownership is training your dog to behave in an acceptable way to you and society.

While various methods can be used to train a dog, one of the most effective is rewarding good behaviour. Offering your dog treats or praise when they behave in the desired manner will help them understand what is expected of them. In addition, this positive reinforcement will make them more likely to repeat the desired behaviour in the future. As any dog owner knows, a well-behaved dog can be a joy to have around.

The Premack Principle is a simple but powerful tool that can be used in many different ways to train dogs effectively. By using positive reinforcement (offering something the dog enjoys after they have displayed the desired behaviour), you can encourage your dog to repeat the behaviour. The Premack Principle can also be used to extinguish unwanted behaviours by denying the reinforcement of attention.

Dogs are instinctively social creatures that crave companionship and attention. As a result, they are highly responsive to positive reinforcement, a training technique that rewards desired behaviours. When used correctly, positive reinforcement can be a potent tool for shaping dog behaviour.

One of the reasons it is so effective is that it takes advantage of the strong bond between dogs and their owners. Dogs naturally want to please their owners, and so when they are rewarded for good behaviour, they learn to associate that behaviour with happiness and satisfaction.


Positive reinforcement provides an immediate reward for desired behaviour, which helps to reinforce the desired behaviour in the dog’s mind. Positive reinforcement is an effective way to train dogs because it builds on the natural relationship between dogs and their owners and provides an immediate reward for good behaviour.

If you’re looking for a way to improve your dog’s obedience, try using the Premack Principle. With patience and consistency, you can harness the power of reinforcement to help your dog learn desired behaviours. Who knows, maybe you’ll even be able to teach them a few new tricks! Thanks for reading! 🙂

Related Course: Using Rewards Effectively

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