Myths vs Facts
Positive Reinforcement is one of the Four Quadrants of Operant Conditioning defined by B.F. Skinner, and is the basic foundation of Learning. The Positive and Negative in Operant Conditioning has very little to do with “Good” and “Bad”, and instead refers to the input/take away of stimulus.
Think of Pos. and Neg. in mathematics. Pos (+) means to add, Neg (-) means to take away. Therefore, when a stimulus is added (treat given) to the Operator (dog), it is Pos(+), and if a stimulus is taken away (toy taken away) it is neg(-).
Meanwhile, Punishment and Reinforcement refers to the Increase(^) or Decrease (v) of a Behaviour. So, if a dog repeats a behaviour, it is Rein. If a dog no longer continues the behaviour, it is Pun.
Now, this is merely the basics of Op. Cond.
Having an understanding on the ground works of Learning helps us move onto creating behaviours that we want. B.F. Skinner has continued this line of research and constructed the Reinforcement Theory and Schedule of Reinforcement.
Now, as fascinating as this research is, what about Dog Training?
All living organisms responds to the environment and shape their behaviour in this manner. However, this is an overly simplified version of actual learning. While in science our primary objective is to observe and see the reactions a subject has towards a stimulus, in dog training, we are trying to generate a behaviour, and often have the dog repeat the behaviour when cued.
This means, while the scientific methods give us insight on how learning works, applying it as a means to teach a dog behaviour is another ball game.
Visit my instagram for some examples, or get in touch with me so I can show you the wonders of Science-Based Dog Training.