Tuesday, June 27, 2017

What are Quadrants?

What are Quadrants? Applying Learning Theory to Dog Training

There are only two main principles for dog-friendly training.  Give something to get more of a behavior you want. Take something away to stop a behavior you don't like.

Positive Reinforcement (+R): If you want your dog to repeat a behavior more frequently, reward that behavior in some way.

Negative Punishment (-P): If you want your dog to repeat a behavior less frequently, remove any reward or perceived award for the behavior. This should happen rarely - focus on reinforcement.

Access to anything interesting is a reinforcer
Think of positive and negative in the addition/subtraction sense.  The counterparts to +R and -P are negative reinforcement (take away an aversive - something painful or unpleasant to the dog - as a reward) and positive punishment (present the dog with something painful or unpleasant for doing something you do not like).

"Positive training" usually uses positive reinforcement and negative punishment exclusively, or very rarely uses the other two techniques, and even then with aversives that are not painful, just unpleasant (like time-outs or startling noises).  I do not consider slip chains (choke chains) or prong collars to be part of "positive training," although some other trainers think of that as "balanced training." What they don't know is that a combination of aversive corrections and positive reinforcements has been proven to be the least effective way to teach, and it's definitely not necessary.

Why go positive?  The reason that many trainers prefer to use +R and -P instead of the alternatives is the fact that working with rewards is so much more fun, for the human and the dog, than aversives like choke chains.  But does it work?  Definitely!  Positive trainers have successfully trained all sorts of competition dogs, from obedience to agility to tracking.  In fact, clicker trained dogs are usually ready for the obedience ring and agility competitions much faster than dogs trained with leash corrections.  Pet dogs everywhere have also benefited from trainers who use these no-force methods.
Let's discuss +R and -P in more detail.

Positive Reinforcement:  A reinforcer is anything that your dog likes. Read the entire article

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