Why I choose positive reward training methods

Punishment ‘works’ by exposing the dog to stimuli that they do not like. The dog will avoid performing that behaviour again because the outcome is not pleasant. The dog has not learned anything other than by doing A, B will occur so I won’t do A as I don’t like B so will avoid it.

But what is the effect of punishment on the dog? That’s the unknown bit. No one can predict what the dog will experience when it is exposed to something it does not like. But if whatever has happened has resulted in the behaviour being avoided it means that there will be some form of impact on the dog. Otherwise, it would not have had the effect.

Punishment can cause dogs to become anxious, fearful, aggressive, have obsessive disorders and change personality and create a poor relationship with its owners.

Reward-based training creates learning. That is a fact that has been proven by B.F Skinner, Pavlov and other great psychologists.

When a dog predicts a reward, dopamine is released in the brain. Dopamine neurons reach parts of the brain that affects learning. If the dog receives a reward and the reward is higher than predicted. (generally, food with dogs is the greatest reward ever!) then that behaviour will be repeated again.

If the reward is less than expected or no reward, there will be no dopamine release and no change in behaviour.

In conclusion, dogs who receive a reward that they value after good behaviour will have learnt to repeat that behaviour again.

Next time someone says to you rewarding is bribing, you can then tell them that rewarding is learning.

That is why I choose reward-based and avoid punishment (not avoid, I just don’t). Learning takes longer, but it lasts longer and its kinder, and will build a great relationship with your dog.

Happy training!

Sam x

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