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The Basics Of Training Your Dog Dog: Family Pet - Friend - Compainion - Guard Published & Distributed by Dunway Enterprises Canine obedience training

NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT VERSUS POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT

In this article, we shall discuss a variety of reinforcement methods used in animal training.

We shall endeavor to clearly point out the pros and cons of each type and also discuss their appropriateness for given situations. Hopefully this will give you, the reader, the knowledge needed to make an educated decision on how to reward or correct your petsí behavior.

To begin, letís improve our understanding of positive reinforcement.

Positive Reinforcement, for the purposes of this article, refers to any form of training that is based on rewards rather than punishment. This training would be the type witnessed in many zoos where a trained animal is rewarded with some treat, such as a morsel of food, for a job well done.

Positive reinforcement can also refer to petting the animal or verbal praises. Other examples of positive reinforcement would be play time, such as a rousing game of fetch or playing chase.

Negative Reinforcement is the opposite of positive reinforcement.

This involves a punishment for less than favorable performances and usually implies some kind of fear, pain or discomfort for the animal being trained. Training aids such as electrical shock collars or choke chains would fall under this category.

Also in this category, you would find such things as crate training and chemical compounds, such as Bitter Apple and Cayenne Pepper.

This is the kind of training exhibited in the old time circus shows displaying lion tamers and whips to keep the animals in submission.

While both types of reinforcement have their place, they also have limits and unacceptable uses. To beat a dog or inflict serious physical injury to the animal in the name of training is morally unacceptable and inexcusable, not to mention illegal in most areas.

By the same token, allowing a dog to become a danger to others by never using any form of punishment is also unacceptable. An equal balance must be achieved for proper training of your pet or you run the risk of owning a maladjusted animal which will be either overly aggressive or fearful and nervous.

If error is to be made in either direction, fall to the safer side of too much positive reinforcement, as this is much easier to correct.

Positive reinforcement does much for the relationship of the pet to its master and should be given any time the pet demonstrates a correct behavior at an appropriate time. Your pet will sense your pleasure in its performances and will seek to repeat them more often in the future. A kind word or a small treat goes a very long way towards your dog seeing you as a leader.

Being pack animals, dogs will pick an Alpha or leader to the pack and will follow readily with a sole desire to please. To use positive reinforcement effectively, find what motivates your dog. Perhaps it is food or toys, playtime or even verbal praise. Whatever the case may be, use this motivation to achieve results with your pet.

Consistently reward the pet in immediate response to the desired behavior. Dogs are creatures that thrive on instant gratification. In other words, reward them immediately for an action and they are far more likely to repeat it.

Negative reinforcement also has its place in training your dog, albeit a much smaller place. If your dog exhibits an undesirable behavior such as chewing on your power cords for your laptop or soiling the floor, then action must be taken to correct this. Behaviors such as chewing power cords could be dangerous to the animal and allowing this to continue could be harmful to your petsí health as well as costly for you, in both repair bills and veterinary visits.

Just like a child, sometimes a pup needs correction or a time out. A little time in the kennel or a light but convincing tap on the nose will help your pet to understand that these behaviors are not going to continue. (A note from the author: While a light swat to correct a dangerous situation such as cord chewing is acceptable, beating or injuring your pet is not. Please be a responsible pet owner and if you have had a bad day, donít take it out on the dog.)

Again it should be remembered that immediate and consistent action is the key in training using both methods of reinforcement. If you wait too long before correcting or rewarding a behavior, all impact of the message will be lost.

Observing these basics, you can clearly see that both methods are useful to trainers and have their special niches.

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