who just wants a well behaved dog go about sorting through all this information
to determine which equipment and methods of training are the ones he should
choose for his dog? Do different dogs require different methods of
between hypothetical endpoints of reward-based training and correction-based
training. In reality, there is no such thing as reward-based training without
punishment (correction) because reward-based (aka “positive”) trainers withhold rewards which is a form of punishment, and there is no such thing as correction-based training without rewards since even correction-based trainers give some positive reinforcement (praise, food treats, etc.). Most trainers then lie somewhere on the continuum between the two endpoints, tending to be either reward-based or correction-based, depending on where they sit on the continuum.
“balanced” trainers, using a “balance” of correction and rewards. If one imagines the reward-based end of the continuum as positive and the correction-based end of the continuum as negative, balanced training that hovers around the midpoint of zero could be conceived as having little or no effect, with the negative cancelling out the positive. In reality the result is more of a diminutive and unreliable response than an actual zero effect.
trade-off is likely to be a dog that is inhibited and does not offer behaviors
for fear of being punished. Think about it, if you don’t know whether your next
move will be rewarded or punished, how likely are you to experiment and offer
new behaviors? What will your demeanor look like? Will you be very creative?
Have much initiative?
stronger and undesired behaviors extinguish or go away. A motivated animal learns very quickly what works and what doesn’t to get him what he wants! For dog and handler, it’s a win-win situation!
of reinforcement (rewards) is decreased and put on a variable schedule, meaning the animal doesn’t get a reward for every correct behavior but instead receives rewards on a less frequent and irregular basis, which actually serves to keep the learned behaviors strong.
but food is a necessary part of animal training, at least in the early stages. It is what behaviorists call a primary reinforcer, meaning it is
something that all animals need and do not have to learn to like that serves to
increase the likelihood a behavior will be repeated.
process, food will be systematically replaced with secondary reinforcers such as play, petting and praise.
activates the parasympathetic nervous system, causing an animal to relax and
develop what we call a positive emotional response. In training food is also
useful as a gauge of stress. An animal that cannot eat is too stressed to learn, and something needs to change before asking the animal to continue with a training session.
rather than a reward. If we do too much luring with food and food
is always within easy view of the animal, the animal may become dependent on
food and refuse to perform without it. If instead, we keep the food out of sight and make rewards contingent on performance, food is used as a reward.
clicker training we speak of cues versus commands. In compulsion training, commands are given. In clicker training we teach a behavior
before teaching the animal the name (“cue”) of the behavior, whereas in
compulsion training and some other forms of positive reinforcement training the
command is taught at the same time a behavior is taught. A cue represents an opportunity for reinforcement, whereas a command is an order. If you give a
command and your dog disobeys your only option is to increase the forcefulness of your command, but if you cue your dog to perform a certain behavior and he misses it the first time, you’d better believe he will listen better the next time!
incorrectly, 2) rapid learning, 3) enthusiasm for learning, 4) deepened bond
between owner/trainer and his or her animal, and 4) long term memory for what
has been learned.
detection dogs, to teach canine musical freestyle, and to teach agility to
cats, horses, rabbits and sheep! It has even been used to teach rats to sniff
out land mines! Now it is available for dog owners to use with their pets!
but ready to start their next training session when the opportunity arises.
Lure-reward trainers are generally positive reinforcement trainers who use food as a lure moreso than clicker trainers and may or may not use a clicker or other marker signal in training. Lure-reward trainers vary greatly in their methodology and may employ some degree of correction.
In stark contrast to positive reinforcement training is correction-based training,
aka compulsion, or force-based training. Correction-based trainers believe they must correct or punish undesired behaviors in order for an animal to learn.
punishment and negative reinforcement. Quite simply, an aversive stimulus is applied for an undesired behavior and it is discontinued when the animal complies with a desired behavior.
Negative” means to take something away. “Positive reinforcement” means to add something that is reinforcing, and “reinforcement” is something which increases the likelihood a behavior will be repeated. “Positive punishment” means to add punishment, aka correction. “Punishment,” in behavioral terms means something which decreases the likelihood of a behavior being repeated.
ear or his toe until he takes a dumbbell in his mouth is another example of
negative reinforcement. The pain stops when the animal complies. Negative
reinforcement is a very powerful method of training, but it raises ethical
questions in the minds of positive reinforcement trainers who contend that we
have just as effective if not more effective means of training without the
unwanted effects of punishment, aka correction.
control. Positive reinforcement trainers, especially clicker trainers work hard
to positively motivate and empower their animals to give them ample opportunity for success while correction-based trainers work to control their animals through external devices and the threat of punishment.
process. They know that for punishment to be effective it must meet a number of criteria:
· It must be applied at the right intensity the first time and every time; otherwise the animal may get used to (“habituate” to) the pain and increasing levels are required to be effective
· It must be applied consistently; otherwise it can actually have the unintended effect of strengthening the undesired behavior
· It must be applied at the precise moment an undesired behavior occurs for the animal to make the intended association between the punishment and the undesired behavior
· An unintended association between the punishment and the punisher, another animal, object or situation
· Physical harm due to electrical burns, trauma to the trachea, damage to the nerves of the eyes or life-threatening pulmonary edema (AVSAB, 2007)
Do we really need to show our dogs who’s boss?
It is a misconception derived from outdated information about wolf packs that we need to dominate our dogs and be their “pack leader.” We now know, based on the work of Dr. Ray Coppinger that dogs, although close relatives of the wolf, aren’t pack animals as we previously thought, but rather scavengers
that form loose associations with one another around food resources.
he recognizes you as a species apart from his own and tries very hard to
understand you as a human. We form a social unit with our pet dogs, but it is probably not best described as a “pack.”
If we give up the idea that we need to be the pack leader and dominate our canine companions, we should also be able to give up outdated training methods aimed at subduing them in favor of tools and techniques such as clicker training which bridge the communication gap and deepen our relationship.
and the bond between owner and dog is strenghtened. Dog and human handler alike will still learn – and have fun doing it!
It is debatable whether correction-based or reward-based training works
faster. If punishment is applied absolutely correctly, it will stop undesired behavior without having to be repeated. But since punishment also inhibits learning, new behaviors may be acquired much more slowly, requiring far more repetition than with positive reinforcement training.
and reliable because it works on virtually any animal and the same consistent
results can be replicated time and time again.
question. Do you want to make your dog obey using external control or do you want to motivate your dog through positive reinforcement of desired behaviors? If you want a partnership with your dog, a deeper relationship, if you want to develop an animal that thinks and is emotionally healthy, that is joyful and loves learning the choice is clear.
rather than what he does wrong is not only a training philosophy, it is a way of life. Clicker trainers for example, use the same positive reinforcement methods with their human students as they do with their canine students. If you can relinquish control to gain it you will discover the wonderful world of positive reinforcement dog training and when you do, you will find that what you can accomplish with your dog is only limited by your imagination and what your dog is physically able to do!
Karen Pryor Academy Certified Training Partner and owner of Canine Connection
www.dubuquedogtraining.com). She is a member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and the International
Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.
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