Friday, May 25, 2012

How to use Punishment in Dog Training

Dog Training has a variety of methodologies and I sit firmly in the positive reinforcement camp. However there has been numerous newspaper articles and tv shows that tell people that position trainers do NOT use punishment and that our dogs are poorly trained, we don't get real results and that when push comes to shove our way just doesn't work. 

Well it's time to explain how positive reinforcement training works and how we use punishment safely and humanely. 

Positive reinforcement training is exactly that: we reinforce a behaviour that we want the dog to repeat. This does not mean that it is permissive training and the dog should get away with bad behaviour like jumping up on people. 

The important thing to know is that there are different types of punishment. Correction based trainers generally use something called Positive Punishment. Positive punishment means to do something to the dog that he/she doesn't like. An example would be using a choke chain and cutting off air to correct the dog for jumping up. 

The majority of positive trainers use something called Negative Punishment (confused yet?). Negative punishment means to take something away from the dog that he/she wants. So if my dog was excited to see a new person and went to jump up I would ask the person to walk away therefore taking away what my dog wants until he/she can stay sitting. This can sometimes take a bit longer but in my opinion is more effective in the long run as most people don't want to be applying corrections forever. 

Negative punishment is essentially the same idea as time outs for kids versus spanking. We know both work but the decision on which to use is based on ethics and beliefs. I believe in violence free training so I do not hit, scream, shock, throw things or cut off my dogs' airways. I don't advise my clients to do this either. 

Applying negative punishment means you have to use your brain to figure out the following:
1. What is my dog getting out of this? (ie. what is reinforcing this behaviour)
2. What do I want my dog to do instead? (ie. teach sit stay instead of jumping on people)
3. How do I train my dog to do what I want? (a trainer can be very helpful here). 

It's also important to know that dogs have a similar mental capacity to an 18 month old child only they don't speak ANY english, will react to physical corrections with a fight or flight response and have weapons. Why teach our dogs to bite, flee or shut down when we can teach them what we want in a humane manner? There are now professionals in ALL types of dog training that successfully train their dogs without force. I challenge you to do the same. 

1 comment:

  1. Wouldn't a REAL Negative Punishment for jumping disrespectfully start by removing the dog's free-form will of being in association with the blow it by jumping you are constrained to down stay, isolation (relatively) from association. Give me some moment of reserve and we can try the greet process again..jump again, then we repeat. Allow opportunity for we remove all the joy of association. I find many cases where 'dancing' with people just becomes negativity realized by the jumper and little consequence. Takes a little more brain work perhaps..but we in for the long haul,right?