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Positive Reinforcement and dog training – what is is?

March 6, 2008

The term “Positive Reinforcement” is such the “in thing” to say nowadays when it comes to training your pet dog – but what exactly does it mean? In a very small nutshell, it means adding something, or giving something, to an animal they find pleasant after a behavior is performed in order to increase the frequency of that behavior. For example: you ask your dog to sit, she does, you give her a cookie. With consistency, she will probably start offering this behavior (sitting) more frequently because of the pleasant outcome. As you can see, it is the consequences that drive the behavior. 

So how can those folks who use squirt bottles when punishing their dogs, or jerking the collars, or rolling them onto their backs call themselves “positive reinforcement” trainers…? As far as I can tell by reading the dogs body language, being squirt, rolled over with force, or jerked and yelled at is not the most pleasant thing…and certainly doesn’t tell the dog what you want. 
My philosophy and methodology at the inquisitive canine is centered around positive reinforcement. Which means I like to motivate the dogs with anything and everything they find pleasant and rewarding… food, petting, praise, toys, belly rubs, tug of war, and all sort of other fun and games… Life is full of enough aversives…why add to it – especially when it distorts learning, yes? 

I recommend everyone be inquisitive themselves when looking for a trainer - think about how well you would learn a new skill… being spoken to in a language you understand, being motivated by something you find to be pleasant…not afraid of. It’s not just the words, but the actions of the trainer themselves.

Come check us outsign up for one of our classes… you may be positively reinforced as well. 

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