Positive reinforcement in dogs

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Many people search the net for methods to solve problems that arise during the education of their pets and that is when the positive reinforcement in dogs, a good tool to contribute to learning. The training of a dog does not only apply to its youth stages but it continues already in the adult life of the dog.

In other words, the behavior is strengthened when it is followed by a positive reinforcer. The term "positive "means that the reinforcer is presented or added immediately after the behavior. Positive reinforcers are usually things that are pleasant for the individual, or things that the individual is willing to make some effort for. In this AnimalWised article we talk about it positive reinforcement in dogs and the effectiveness and results it presents in training.

You may also be interested in: Positive reinforcement in cats Index
  1. What is positive reinforcement?
  2. How to apply positive reinforcement in dogs?
  3. Clicker use
  4. Bad training tools
  5. Benefits of positive reinforcement
  6. Correct use of positive reinforcement
  7. Incorrect use of positive reinforcement

What is positive reinforcement?

Dog education and training are based on classical conditioning and operant conditioning. In the latter, the consequences of behavior As a basis for learning, in this way, if we apply positive reinforcement, there will be greater chances of the dog performing a certain behavior. In summary, we will explain the four variables of the operant condition:

  • Positive reinforcement: add a pleasant stimulus when the dog performs appropriate behavior. An example would be rewarding the dog with a treat after obeying an obedience command..
  • Negative reinforcement: remove an unpleasant stimulus when the dog performs an appropriate behavior. An example would be electric collars, which stop emitting shocks when the dog stops barking.
  • Positive punishment: add an unpleasant stimulus when the dog engages in inappropriate behavior. An example would be punishing the dog with a blow or a pull on the collar when he reacts badly on the street.
  • Negative punishment: remove a pleasant stimulus when the dog performs inappropriate behavior. An example would be to leave the pipican when the dog bites another dog inside it.

However, we must differentiate the use of positive reinforcement, present in practically all dog training techniques, from "positive education ", that excludes positive punishment and negative reinforcement.

How to apply positive reinforcement in dogs?

Using positive reinforcement in dogs is very simple, it consists of reward with treats, caresses and words to our dog when you successfully place an order. Unlike other training methods, the dog trained through positive education understands more positively and suffers from lower levels of stress..

The most common positive reinforcers in dog training are food and play. However, there are also other enhancers that you can use. All dogs are different from each other, and each one has particular preferences. For this reason, it is not possible to affirm that all dogs have to be trained with this or that type of food, or that tug-of-war games serve as reinforcers in all cases..

Clicker use

The clicker is a tool that applies positive reinforcement by means of a small instrument that makes a sound, thus improving the attention and perception in the animal. Discover in AnimalWised what the clicker is and how it is used. It is a perfect idea if we are thinking of educating our dog since it allows us to "capture " certain behaviors of the dog that we like. If you already know how it works, discover how to charge the clicker to start practicing with your dog.

Bad training tools

Scold and punish Not only does it raise stress levels, but several studies indicate that the dog is more likely to take longer to learn. We must also remember that after a certain time the dog no longer remembers what he has done wrong and that he shows submission only because he knows that we are angry: he shrinks and gets scared because he knows that he has done something wrong but does not really understand why.

The methods of punishment such as the hanging collar or the electric shock collar are very dangerous and negative instruments for the dog since it has been proven that it can make the dog redirect his anger against whoever is close to harm their behavior severely being able to make our dog aggressive, apathetic or antisocial.

Benefits of positive reinforcement

The truth is that both trainers, educators, ethologists and veterinarians always recommend positive reinforcement in dog education since we make them learn in a more fun way that they remember more effectively. In addition, positive reinforcement allows better relation between pet and owner which makes our pet feel loved, feel well-being and open socially.

It is the ideal type of education for people without experience in dealing with dogs and for people who already have experience as it provides the opportunity to positively educate our pet by making it feel happy and respected..

Correct use of positive reinforcement

In our article about teaching a dog to sit you can see how we use food for the dog to perform the trick, and once it has succeeded, we reward you (We are using positive reinforcement) so that you understand that you have done well. Repeating and continuing to reinforce this command helps the dog to understand that you are doing well and you are being rewarded for your skills.

Incorrect use of positive reinforcement

If we are teaching our dog to paw, for example, we must make sure to reward good compliance after it is done correctly. If we let too much time pass between the action and the prize or, on the contrary, we get ahead of ourselves, we are making the dog do not associate correctly the order with the candy.

Educating at the same time takes time and patience, but something much more important, the precision of rewarding the animal at the right time. In our list of common mistakes when scolding a dog, you can see that the first (and most important) mistake is scolding a dog out of time. This type of attitude harms the animal and generates confusion..

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