The Controversies in Negative Reinforcement for Dog Training

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As many well established dog trainers know, there are various different ways to teach your dog or puppy obedience and training. Two particular forms of training drew a lot of public attention and that is Positive and Negative Reinforcement. Negative Reinforcement in the dog world is defined as: A punishment that is given to your dog or puppy or something is taken away to increase the likelihood of the behavior being repeated more frequently. If any one is familiar with Cesar Millan we know that he is very much a fan of this particular approach, and his particular choice of training drew a lot of ethical questions. In the article I read it touched base with the correct way to train your dog with using negative reinforcement which drew a very thin line to punishment. In our text punishment is defined as an outcome or consequence of a behavior that weakens the probability of the behavior. In the article the trainer had stated you could use negative reinforcement when you are potty training your dog. The article has also stated, if your dog where to have an accident in the house to place him/her in their crate so they know they have to potty outside, is this really the proper use of negative reinforcement? It seems more like punishment because nothing has actually been taken away from the pooch, besides his freewill.
The other methods which were listed are the use of things such as, Shock Training Collars, Choke Collars, Bitter Apple and Cayenne Pepper spray, and water spray collars, or in Cesar Millan's case kicking the dog when unwanted behavior occurs. While all these methods seem more like punishment (in just scaring the dog out of the unwanted behavior) trainers nation wide are not using negative reinforcement correctly, making dog owners shun the idea of negative reinforcement, which if used properly could be a very effect method of dog training.
Trainers such as Cesar Millan have fell victim to being labeled as an animal abuser because of his particular methods in dog training. He claims that he is using negative reinforcement, when he's not actually removing a stimulus, but striking fear into a dog when an unwanted behavior occurs. He may run into less issues with the owners if he calls it as it is, and admits to using punishment whether the negative reinforcement to train his dogs.
More dog owners and trainers seem to be switching over to the less controversial training of positive reinforcement! Which in the dog world is defined as, A treat and lots of praise to increase the likelihood of the behavior being repeated more frequently. This method seems more beneficial to the owners and of course their dogs, I mean how can you go wrong with treats? I hope this particular article opens the eyes to our many dog trainers and owners out there, and helps them re-evaluate their method of training, and if they choose to stick with negative reinforcement make sure that it's done correctly, so you don't go from becoming a trainer to an abuser!

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This page contains a single entry by cros0191 published on October 23, 2011 12:01 PM.

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