Understanding The Basic Theory Of Positive Reinforcement

March 9th, 2010 by Dan

Have you ever observed a rambunctious child in public whose parent keeps yelling “no, no, no” like a broken record? If you’ve watched he situation, you’ve probably noticed that the child usually continues the undesirable behavior until it is picked up or otherwise removed from the situation. The droning or screaming “No’s” don’t seem to be heard by the child, because in their mind – the word has been said so much, it’s meaningless.

Photo by the dark end of the street

This same concept carries over to the theory of positive reinforcement in canines. When owners spend so much time and energy trying to catch their dog’s in the act of doing something negative in order to correct it, they waste many precious moments when they could be rewarding positive behavior. For example, if your puppy is having issues chewing on inappropriate objects – redirect his attention to a chew toy and reward. Then when you find him chewing on his toys happily on his own, calmly drop a treat and let him continue the process. Positive association with actions you want to encourage is the best way to insure these are repeated.

Much like children, dogs will make the most out of the attention you give them – if you choose to spend all of your energy scolding them for their negative behaviors, it could easily backfire and draw unwanted notice to these habits.

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