Training your dog can be a lengthy process if you don’t know what you are doing. There are many different methods that can be used to train your pets but you have to figure out which one will work for you and your dog. Here is a run down of positive/negative reinforcement and positive/negative punishment. A lot of people get confused between reinforcement and punishment so I thought I would include an explanation of each, plus the training methods that fall under each category.
This method is pretty self explanatory in name. You will train your dog to do things and when they do it correctly, you give them positive reinforcement. This will encourage your dog to want to continue doing the right thing. Some examples of positive reinforcement are….
Food Based: Rewarding your dog with tasty treats when they do what you ask is positive reinforcement. When the dog doesn’t obey what you are asking it to do, they don’t receive a treat. They learn pretty quickly what you want them and continue to behave correctly as their aim is to get the scrumptious treats!
Clicker Training: This method uses a small clicker that you will click when the dog does what you want it to do. They will get used to hearing this when they do something correctly and keep performing the desired action.
Praise: This is the method everybody is aiming to use once the above two reinforcements have been mastered. A physical praise such as a pat, accompanied by verbal praise for good behaviour will reinforce your dog that this is the behaviour you want them to continue. I believe using verbal praise accompanied with both food based and clicker training is best, as eventually these both can be eliminated and the dog will respond to just your voice as a reward for good behaviour. Works brilliantly!
This method requires you to remove something when your dog does something correctly. Applying pressure on your dogs collar when commanding it to ‘sit’ is an example of negative reinforcement. Once the dog obeys the command the pressure on the collar is released.
An example of us using negative reinforcement is when a car doesn’t go when the light turns green, the reaction is to beep the horn. Once you beep, the car in front moves. From now on, you know that if you want a car to move in front, you can beep your horn and you will get the desired action you are after.
With this method, something aversive (unpleasant stimulus) is applied to decrease the chance of a behaviour being repeated. With positive punishment, the wrong reaction by the dog produces a punishing stimulus on them.
A shock or an electronic collar falls under positive punishment. Other aversive-training equipment include, chain collars, metal prong collars, and electronic collars. Another form of positive punishment that doesn’t use these collars are when the owner will administer a correction with a sharp jerk or pop of the leash to stop the dog from pulling for example.
This is a form of correction that involves taking away something the dog enjoys. To make sure negative punishment works effectively you must take away something that your dog highly values, such as his favourite toy or his favourite treat. With this kind of punishment you need to ensure that your dog understands exactly what behaviour is being punished, and by that I mean catching your dog in the act of doing something naughty for this to work. Another example of negative punishment, is after you catch your dog in the act, putting them outside for a ‘time out’ or in an isolated room.
Removing the item that is giving him pleasure or putting him outside will be enough to get the point across that this behaviour is not acceptable. Using a noise accompanied by this will also add to the effectiveness of this method, such as ‘uh-uh’ or ‘chh” while removing something of value. Timing and consistency is vital to ensure training with this method is successful.
One of the best forms of training nowadays is positive reinforcement, and most goals can be achieved by only using this form of training. I have a holistic approach to training dogs, which involves all methods that DON’T harm the dog in any way. I believe every dog, every person and every case is different so I choose to use whatever I believe is going to work best for the dog.
The most important thing is to make sure that you put the time and energy into training your dog, so you get the desired results. No one is going to achieve results straight away, its a given! However, if you are consistent and do a bit of training each day, your dog will be doing exactly what you want it to do in no time!!
Love, Talia xo