In psychology the term operant conditioning refers to learning by means of cause and effect. There are desired and undesired behaviors with consequences to be learned for both. Punishment used for decreasing undesired behavior, reinforcement used for increasing desired behavior. There are two consequences to presented behaviors, positive and negative. Negative refers to methods removing a stimulus. Positive refers to methods adding a stimulus.
There are four different combinations to learning via operant conditioning.
One of the more recent developments in dog training methods has been the Positive Reinforcement method, sometimes also called reward based training, clicker training, or force-free training. This type of training started to gain popularity in the mid-1990s. Before then, dominance and punishment based training, styles were mainstream.
Positive reinforcement works off the basis of rewarding your dog when the desired behavior is expressed. Forms of rewarding your dog can be treats, praise like saying “Good Boy” or “Yes”, petting, or playing with a toy. It depends on what motivates your dog most. This form of training is fun and exciting for your dog. Your dog will not want to please you based off fear. It helps create a stronger bond between you and your dog with clearer communication and a willingness to please.
Treats can be a very high motivation for many dogs. However, with time you do not want to always treat your dog for doing right. It is important to wean your dog off of constant treat based rewards so that with time doing what you ask him to becomes enough of a reward for your dog. It is fine to continue to use verbal praise or to treat from time to time. The goal is to have a dog who listens even when treats are not involved.
Positive Reinforcement Makes Sense
Everyone should agree the easiest way to get your dog to learn “sit” would be to reward it when it happens to sit (positive reinforcement). You wouldn’t pull your dog’s tail until he sits (negative reinforcement). You wouldn’t get angry at your dog for standing (positive punishment). And you wouldn’t take away your dog’s food for continuing to stand (negative punishment). Positive reinforcement gives clear direction on the behavior you asking for and does not confused your dog. That’s a very simple example of how to use positive reinforcement. It can be used on behaviors that do not have a command, for example, housebreaking your dog. Give rewards whenever your puppy potties outside, even if you were there to put him out.
Positive Reinforcement Trains You
Situations could become more complicated when you are trying to train your built-to-pull-tamaskan to walk on a loose leash. For us, this has been the most difficult training challenge we’ve encountered. Going for walks is already a big deal for your dog. They get to explore a new environment, smell the world around them, and see new exciting things like other dogs or people or cars. Going for walks is a very distracting situation and can also be so stimulating that your dog may not respond to rewards (even raw steak)!
It can be very frustrating when your dog no longer responds to his reward. It can also be tempting to use painful methods like choke, martingale, or prong collars to try and force your dog into submission. I cannot stress enough that this can be very harmful to your dog. You can damage his trachea and even his spine and can cause aggression.
It’s best to remember that the goal of training is to have your dog excited and eager to do what pleases you. This means starting off slow.
Practice walking loose leash in less stimulating environments including inside the house, in your own backyard, and slowly introducing new places. This also means you will have to actively be working to get your dog’s attention and rewarding to even the smallest amounts of progress. It is key to set your dog up for success and not failure. You may even need to lower your dog’s excitement by playing and tiring him out before going for a walk so he is less likely to have the energy left to pull (though this is impossible for a tamaskan lol).
When not to use Positive Reinforcement
Even when using positive reinforcement training, it is important to still correct improper behavior. When your dog misbehaves it is important he knows it. Dogs are very good at picking up on facial and tonal cues. Your dog will understand your scrunched forehead and stern “No” means he did not please you. When you are correcting your dog you should still avoid overly forceful direction like physical contact. This can harm and cause unwanted aggression. While potty training it is important to never yell or smack your dog. If you catch your puppy in the act of going inside, you can say, “No,” and pick them up to go outside. If you do not catch him in the act, it is never appropriate to rub his face in it or try to point out his mistake to him, as he will not understand the association between his mess inside and your anger.
Studies have shown that
It is also important to stay consistent with behaviors you do and do not want. If you do not want your dog on the couch, tell him “Off” and reward him for getting off the couch. However, do not allow him later to get on the couch with you and pet him while watching a show. This will only teach your dog that “Off” means get off the couch, not that you do not want him on the couch ever.
I hope this summary of positive training is enough to get you interested in learning more! Some great YouTubers who can explain this training method and give examples of teaching your dog skills are
Referenced Studies: https://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2012/08/03/positive-reinforcement-dog-training.aspx