What is Positive Reinforcement Dog Training?
True +R Dog Training focuses on rewarding desirable behaviors and avoids the use of fear or force to achieve cooperation with our dogs.
Punishment is something that reduces the likelihood of a behavior being repeated, while reinforcement is something that increases the likelihood of a behavior being repeated.
Positive means something is added to the scenario while negative means something is taken away from the scenario, whether these "somethings" are desirable (treat or toy) or undesirable (leash tug or verbal correction).
Unwanted behaviors are mistakenly positively reinforced all the time.
When a dog excitedly jumps onto their person and receives attention, they learn that they should jump more.
When a dog barks for attention and their people attempt to quiet them, they learn that barking gets their people to engage with them.
Just like people
Dogs work for rewards. While we work for a paycheck, our pup’s most convincing currencies are food, praise and play.
Focus on what you want your dog to do, not on what you don’t want them to do.
The trick is to ensure that when your pup performs a "good" behavior, it causes something desirable to happen.
If we aren't being intentional and consistent about controlling which of our pups' behaviors cause desirable things to happen, communication can break down and it becomes a slippery slope towards dogs training their people instead of vice versa!
Why is Positive Punishment (+P) not for your dog?
To begin, +P can cause your dog to associate you with the punishment and learn to fear you, which can lead to aggression.
It also simply is less fun for both handler and pup.
(Imagine having a personal trainer at the gym who regularly yells cacophonous corrections when you do something wrong!)
In addition to making training a less enjoyable experience for the dog, it does nothing to get our pups any closer to knowing what it is that we want them to do.
In contrast, +R causes your dog to associate you with games, praise, treats, toys and all things good! Pups who are trained without any fear or force will usually wag their tails and report for duty when they suspect that it might be time for a training session.
When we teach our dogs to offer us the desired behavior without the use of force, they are making decisions and thinking on their own.
This mental stimulation can be every bit as tiring as physical stimulation for a pup.
Any dog owner knows the mantra “a tired pup is a well behaved pup!”
Most people would agree that it is a much more satisfying feeling to praise and reward your dog than it is to shock, yank, or berate them.
Methods involving dominance and force lead to frustration for both dog and handler, while methods involving rewards lead to an increased bond with our furry friends.