Most people think Positive Training means giving a treat during training when your dog responds correctly to a command you have given them. It does not.
Let’s talk about how dogs learn for a minute.
There are four ‘quadrants’, if you will, which describe what happens when the dog is making associations between their behavior and what happens in their world as a result of their behavior. This is also referred to as Instrumental Learning. This type of training can be described as ‘cause and effect’ because the dog begins to make associations between their behavior and what happens as a result of their behavior, both good and bad.
Positive does not mean ‘Good’, we tend to think of Positive meaning Good and Negative meaning Bad. Positive means we are adding something to the training equation and Negative means we are taking something away.
Reinforcement means the behavior is more likely to occur in the future while Punishment means the behavior is less likely to occur in the future.
Positive Reinforcement means we are adding something during training. It could be food, a toy, or praise. We are rewarding the dog for their behavior. This particular behavior is reinforced because they are more likely to do it again in the future.
Positive Punishment is giving your dog a correction. It is Positive because we are adding something to the training, a correction. This is reinforced because the dog is less likely to exhibit this behavior in the future.
Negative Reinforcement is usually thought of as giving the dog a correction, but is not. The dog’s behavior turns off something which is happening to them. For example, you pull up on a leash which causes the dog to sit. Once he does you release the pressure on the leash because you got the expected behavior. Therefore, the dog’s action caused you to stop pulling on the leash. It is ‘Negative’ because you took something away, the pulling on the leash, and it is Reinforced because it is likely to continue in the future. Something unpleasant is happening, the dog’s behavior stops the unpleasantness from continuing to happen.
Negative Punishment is simply withholding a reward from your dog. An example would be your dog sees you have a piece of food and jumps on you. You take the food away and dog sits on the ground. It is ‘negative punishment’ because you took something away from the dog.
Giving treats to reward behavior is totally against good pack mentality. In the wild, the basis for how dogs think, a pack leader will never give food for good behavior. Your boss doesn’t give you a treat each time you show up for work on time! In the dogs mind anyone who willingly gives up food to another is the weaker member of the pack. So, if you never go down this path there is one less thing you will need to correct later.
We are going to use Instrumental Training where the dog learns his behavior has consequences, good and bad. It is that simple.