Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Dog training 101 - The quadrants

In the last post I discussed Reinforcements and Punishments, today we are going to learn
the four quadrants of operant conditioning.

For this we need to define positive and negative

Positive - something is ADDED
Negative - something is REMOVED

So this leads us to the four quadrants

Positive reinforcement - Something is ADDED to makes the dogs behaviour MORE likely to happen
Positive punishment - Something is ADDED to make the dogs behaviour LESS likely to happen
Negative reinforcement - something is REMOVED to make the dogs behaviour MORE likely to happen
Negative punishment - Something is REMOVED to make the dogs behaviour LESS likely to happen

So what does that really mean?

Positive reinforcement
If the dog does something we like we give them something they like - for example when the dog sits nicely we give them a treat and that makes them more likely to want to do that again.

Positive punishment
For example when a dog moves out of the heel position a jerk on a prong collar makes them less likely to want to move out of heel position again

Negative reinforcement
When a dog starts to recal back to you you the e-collar stops zapping the dog so he is more likely to want to recal to you

Negative punishment
When a dog jumps all over you for attention when you come into the house so you ignore them while they are bouncing - he is less likely to want to jump over you for attention in the future.

One other thing to consider
Reinforcing behaviours makes dogs not only repeat the behaviour you reinforced but it also makes them more confident to try new things and use their brains to problem solve so actually helps make your dog smarter, more confident and happier

Punishing makes a dog not only less likely to repeat the behaviour you punished but also makes them less confident to try new things, less likely to try and use their brians to solve problems and can actually make them less smart, less confident and less happy

Of course in the real world punishments happen but when your dog presents you with a training challenge it is always best to try and fix it using as much positive reinforcement  as possible, a limited use of negative punishment where needed and to try and avoid positive punishment and negative reward

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