The Gentle Modern School of Dog Training uses positive reinforcement so that your dog learns quickly and willingly.
What is positive reinforcement?
Let’s explain by using a little example:
Positive reinforcement means adding something good immediately after a behaviour occurs to increase the likelihood of that behaviour occurring again in the future. For example if your dog runs up to you on signal and you reward your dog with a piece of food, that is positive reinforcement. It is a very effective way of training dogs. In fact we all tend to respond to positive reinforcement don’t we: we repeat behaviours we find beneficial and try not to repeat things which bring about things we don’t like. Rewards can be anything that your dog finds beneficial but food is what we call a primary reward as it is a biological need essential for survival.
Food rewards should be given intermittently so that the dog does not know when the reward is going to happen, and you should choose the “best” responses to reinforce or reward. Rewards should be given as soon as possible after the desirable behaviour so that the dog makes the connection in his brain: signal, response, reward.
One of our areas of expertise is to show you how to produce good behaviours easily so that you can create and maintain these behaviours in future. This is all part of the technique we know as operant conditioning. Operant conditioning can also involve the use of punishment but this can produce undesirable side effects such as confusion and anxiety which can hinder learning.
Detailed explanations about the psychology behind Operant conditioning are contained in all of our books or you can look on the internet.
A word about a common confusion:
Reinforcers whether they are positive (add something good such as food) or negative (such as removing an unpleasant stimulus after a certain behaviour) are both designed to increase the likelihood of a behaviour happening.
Punishers such as pulling on a dog’s neck with a choker chain are designed to decrease the likelihood of a behaviour happening such as pulling on a lead. Punishment has undesirable social consequences and can make your dog fearful as stated above.
People often think that punishment and negative reinforcement are the same which is incorrect.