Had a call from a wonderful dog guardian today looking for a dog training class here in Ventura that not only uses “positive reinforcement” but that avoids the use of items such as prong collars and choke chains. Whoo boy did she come to the right place!!! I was happy that this certified professional dog trainer could offer her just what she wanted! I felt like contradicting Mick and telling this person “You CAN always get what you want!”
- What exactly is an aversive? An aversive is an event, or change in the environment that an animal finds unpleasant, and seeks to avoid.
- Positive punishment is the start of anything the animal finds unpleasant, and negative reinforcement is the termination of anything unpleasant. In other words, something unpleasant either starts or stops. The animals motivation with either of these is prevention or cessation of something unpleasant.
- Punishment must be immediate each and every time! Timing! (Gotta be Johnny on the spot!)
- Punishment must follow each and every time the behavior occurs. Consistency! (Honestly, are you around every time to deliver the punishment for the behavior you’re trying to eliminate?)
- Punishment must be severe enough for it to work the first time. (Are you really able to deliver something that severe? It needs to be in order for it to actually work!)
- Punishment should change the dogs behavior. (Hey, if it didn’t work after one time it’s not working!)
- Punishment must me doable by the owner. (Can you? Really?)
Damaging side-effects of using aversives:
- Dog can begin to associate the aversive with the presence of the owner (or punisher).
- Can lead to learned helplessness – stops trying anything for fear of being punished.
- Punishment only tells the dog what you don’t want.
- Punishment is inappropriate for dogs with underlying fear issues.
- Punishment might not generalize the cessation of the specific behavior. If given the opportunity to perform the behavior in areas where the dog wasn’t punished, they may do just that.
- Punishment tends to generalize the underlying fear towards any similar environmental situations.