Monday, 3 June 2013

Dog training 101 - reinforcements and punishments

I did something like this a little while ago but things drop off the bottom of blogger so I though I would update it.
For the next few weeks I am going to post some articles on basic dog training. The good news is dog training is actually dead easy, there is no special woo-woo to learn, no mystical energy you need and you dont have to have been raised by a pack of wolves in Mongolia to know how to train dogs.
Just a couple of really simple scientific facts to learn.

Dogs (and all other animals including us) learn by doing something and the consequences dictate whether they are more likely to do it again in the future.

If something bad happens they are less likely to do it again
If something good happens they are more likely to do it again

In dog training we call something that makes the behaviour less likely to happen in the future a PUNISHMENT

We call something that makes the behaviour more likely to happen in the future a REINFORCEMENT

Most people would consider the term 'punishment' to mean something harsh like hitting the dog, but it dosent have to be - look at the definition - it just means something that makes the dogs behaviour less likely to happen.
The dogs behaviour shows you if something is reinforcing or punishing, you may think a pat on the head is enough 'pay' for your dog to work for, it will be for some dogs, but if you are finding no increase in the behaviour you wanted then at that time for that dog in that situation the pat on the head just isnt reinforcing enough


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