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I had an e-mail today from a dog trainer not too far from me. This is what she does with the dogs that are in her care for training.


1) Positive Reinforcement

2) Negative Reinforcement

3) Positive Punishment

4) Negative Punishment


Can someone please give me your opinion on this? I do not intend to take my dogs there because I am happy using Positive Reinforcement. Thanks.


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What kind of information are you looking for exactly? The trainer has listed the 4 quadrants of operant conditioning, which is how dogs typically learn (a behavior has a consequence and that consequence dictates whether the behavior will increase or decrease. Examples of each:


1) You ask the dog to sit, dog sits, you give a treat, dog is more likely to sit in the future

2) You pinch the dogs ear then tell it to sit. The dog sits, you release the ear, the dog is more likely to sit in the future.

3) Dog is barking at you for attention. You shock it. Dog is less likely to bark in the future.

4) Dog is barking at your for attention. You walk into another room and shut the door. Dog is less likely to bark at you for attention in the future.


There's really no such thing as completely "positive reinforcement" training. Everyone who trains using PR also uses negative punishment at some time or another. Which is why I prefer terms like force free, aversive free, or reward based training. But negative reinforcement and positive punishment are unnecessary and potentially harmful and thus, should be avoided. Trainers who use those methods are the ones who use prong/pinch/choke collars, who physically hit dogs or hang or helicopter them, or who use shock collars. Not everyone who is a punishment based trainer does all of those things, but either way you're wise to avoid this trainer.

Edited by NeylasMom


Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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