POSITIVE, NEGITIVE, REINFORCEMENT, PUNISHMENT, WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?!!

26th MAY 2019

There is so much talk in the dog training world about positive reinforcement training as this has been the method that creates a strong bond between owner and dog (or other pet). Do you really know what positive reinforcement is? If you are working with a trainer they should be able to easily explain what kinds of reinforcement there are.  At Four Happy Paws we strictly use positive reinforcement methods but it helps to know what the others are so you can identify the different training techniques. And choose a trainer that has the knowledge behind the methods that they choose.

 

 

little puppies

 

POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT

 

Positive reinforcement is to ADD something that INCREASES the likelihood of behaviour being performed again.

1.    A common training method that uses positive reinforcement is reward-based training such as clicker training.

2.    Conditions that need to be met using positive reinforcement would be that the reward needs to be highly valued enough for the dog to complete the task. The reward also needs to be given in a timely manner (within 0.5 seconds). The environment should also be free from distractions.

3.    Possible implications of using positive reinforcement would be an increase in the bond between dog and owner. The dog would be more willing to learn new behaviours as he is being rewarded in a positive way. The dog may learn easier and faster using this method.

4.    Possible negative implications of using positive reinforcement would maybe be weight-prone dogs being over fed with the use of treats (if owners don’t take the treats into account for their daily intake of food).

 

 

NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT

 

Negative reinforcement is to REMOVE something that INCREASES the likelihood of the behaviour being performed again.

1.    A common training method that uses negative reinforcement would be the use of a choke chain, which the pressure is released from (take something away) when the dog is walking nicely (to increase the likelihood that the behaviour is offered again).

2.    Conditions that need to be met using negative reinforcement would be the item you are removing has to reinforce the behaviour you want to be effective. The dog would have to associate the right stimuli to understand what the owner is trying to teach. The action of taking something away also needs to be completed in a timely manner (within 0.5 seconds).

3.    Possible positive implications of using negative reinforcement would be that the owner might be feel they are in control of their dog using this method. Some owners may prefer a hands on approach and feel they are showing the dog what they want him to do.

 

4.    Possible negative implications of using negative reinforcement would be the dog doesn’t make the right association so takes longer to learn what the owner is requiring from them. The dog may become frustrated as it is not easy for them to associate the two actions.

 

 

 

 

POSITIVE PUNISHMENT

 

Positive punishment is to ADD something that DECREASES the likelihood of the behaviour being performed again.

1.    A common training method that uses positive punishment would be the use of shock collars.

2.    Conditions that need to be met using positive punishment would be that the stimulus is added in a timely manner and in the right context.

3.    Possible positive implications that owners may believe are that their dog will learn fast and if it has a shock collar that automatically goes off so that the owner feels they don’t have to make too much of an effort on their part.

4.    Possible negative implications of using positive punishment would be that the dog doesn’t make the right association to the attended stimulus and may even become either fearful or more aggressive towards the stimulus instead.

 

 

NEGATIVE PUNISHMENT

 

Negative punishment is to REMOVE something that DECREASES the likelihood of the behaviour being performed again.

1.    A common training method that uses negative punishment is an owner removing his or her attention from the dog, to decrease the likelihood of the behaviour being offered again.

2.    Conditions that need to be met using negative punishment are that the owner removes their attention in a timely manner. The owner would need to remove all attention for the method to be successful.

3.    Possible positive implications of negative punishment are that the owner might be happy to remove their attention from the dog to give themselves time out if they are finding the situation overwhelming.

4.    Possible negative implications of using negative punishment are that the dog might associate the wrong thing, and may not understand. The bond between owner and dog may be affected in a negative way. It might not be practical in all situations.