Tag Archives: Puppy Training

The Power of Positive Reinforcement in Dog Training: An Evaluation

Rottweiler-Head
Those of you who have been following our blog will have read the coverage of negative dog training we did earlier. This post focuses on a popular and viable alternative: positive dog training.

For those who came in late, dog training can be negative and positive. Negative training implies physically punishing a dog’s failure to follow orders with immediate reinforcement, and while it is a very conventional method of dog training that is effective in certain scenarios, it is largely regarded as barbaric and primitive. Positive training, on the other hand, focuses on rewarding a dog’s success with food or affection. Here is more about it.

A Bit of History

The earliest mention of positive reinforcement that can be found in literature is in novelist Jack London’s books “Call of the Wild” and “White Fang”, both written in the late 1800s. However, the idea that positive reinforcement might be a viable alternative to punishment in behaviour modification was proposed by B F Skinner, an American cognitive psychologist, in 1971. However, in spite of its relatively antiquated roots, the technique only became popular in the latter half of the 20th century.

About the Technique

As stated earlier, positive dog training in Sunshine Coast focuses on rewards. Here is how it works – every time your dog learns to follow your instructions, you reward it. The “reward” can be physical and/or psychological. Physical rewards include foods and have a very immediate effect on the training. Psychological rewards are often just as effective as physical rewards and include affectionate gestures toward the dog. Studies have shown that in most household scenarios, dogs actually respond more to positive reinforcement than to punishment, and that with a reward-based system, canines grow up to be healthy adults with little or no collateral complications, which leads to them living longer and happier.

Pros and Cons

1. Positive reinforcement alone works best with dog breeds that are not aggressive. Certain aggressive breeds of dogs often require controlled amounts of negative reinforcement especially as adults.

2. Just like negative reinforcement, a dog will only associate a positive reinforcement with success when it is immediate. If your dog follows your order now and a reward is only imparted after say, fifteen seconds, it is likely that the dog will not manage to associate the reward with the (now distant) act of success. This will eventually confuse the dog and lead to complications that could be unmanageable at home.

3. “Rewards” in the form of food, when given repeatedly to a dog, often results in physical complications such as weight gain, heart and liver problems, and reduces the vitality and life span of a dog. There are most sophisticated dog training techniques such as “clicker “ training that uses a clicker as a replacement to a treat after a certain duration of time. Clicker training is probably the most used training technique by professional dog trainers in Sunshine Coast at the moment because it is safe from all perspectives and delivers quick results.

Training Your Dog With a Clicker: What It’s All About

Rottweiler puppy playing with a ball
Clicker training is a specific form of positive dog training that has grown significantly in popularity over the past decade. While it was initially only used on domestic pets to teach them new tricks, it is now used even to train police dogs because of its effectiveness when implemented properly. This article will introduce clicker training as a method for dog training in Queensland focus on when it can and cannot be used.

What is a clicker?

A clicker is contraption small enough to fit in your palm or in your pocket that generates a sonorous “clicking” sound at the press of a button. As we will see in a few sentences, this is of paramount importance to dog trainers in Queensland.

Why Use It?

Clickers are used as a substitute to frequent treats, or to signal to the dog that it has done something right. The instant your dog does something right, you click the clicker. Over time, your dog will learn to associate the click with success. It is more effective than treats for the following reason:

Unlike humans, dogs have a very short attention span. If your dog does something right and you give it a treat twenty seconds later, the dog may not associate the act with the treat at all. In fact, it has been shown that in such incidents, dogs actually associate the success with the act of them looking up at their owner. This is where the clicker comes in handy. It is a two-step process where in the dog learns to associate success with the clicker and the clicker with a reward.

Here’s how you do it – you give the dog an order and when it follows it, you use the clicker and give it a treat. After repeating this process over a considerable period of time, you proceed to use the clicker without the treat, but the dog responds with equal alacrity. To keep the process going, treats are required at fixed intervals of time, usually measured by the number of clicks between subsequent treats.

Why it is Good

The key upside of clicker training is that it incorporates positive reinforcement without actually overloading your pet with treats. The clicker comes with no health complications and is easy to use and implement. On the other side, the remarkable lack of punishment or other forms of negative reinforcement implies that the dog’s emotional growth will be healthy, thereby leading to it living a long and happy life.

Potential downsides

A key potential downside of clicker training that is often highlighted by the advocates of negative reinforcement is that dogs often refuse to obey just the clicker once the treats are made scarce. Moreover, clicker training takes more time than negative reinforcement and is often discouraged where a time constraint is involved in the training.

In a nutshell, clicker training in Queensland is one of the most advanced and well-rounded approaches to dog training that is as effective as any conventional method in spite of being devoid of violence.

That is one perspective – NOT one I agree with but posted for you to think about perhaps-I prefer tactile reward and or click of fingers that engender physical contact in order to strengthen and maintain a bond between handler and canine.