Positive Reinforcement VS. Punishment-Based Training


What is Positive Reinforcement Training?


Positive reinforcement training is the practice of training your dog through praising and rewarding their good behavior. These methods of training have been thoroughly studied and scientifically proven to be the most effective. Positive reinforcement training focuses on building a strong bond between you and your dog. Creating this relationship results in your dog listening to you and respecting you because they truly want to.



How Does it Work?


Positive reinforcement training uses classical conditioning and operant conditioning to train dogs how to perform behaviors, how to socialize well with others, how to feel comfortable in their environment, and how to positively interact with the world around them. Classical conditioning is practice of pairing positive reinforcement like treats with new experiences like meeting other dogs.


Through operant conditioning, behaviors are learned by repeatedly rewarding desired behaviors. Operant conditioning is the practice of giving your dog the opportunity to work for a reward like asking for a sit and then giving them a reward for sitting. Once the dog understands that doing a certain behavior earns them a reward, they continue to perform the behavior. Alternatively, undesirable behaviors are prevented and managed using techniques that reduce their frequency and then extinguish them altogether.


Positive reinforcement training uses scientifically backed animal learning theory. Both the Dog Trainers Association of America and the United States Humane Society recommend these training methods over any other training method.


Dog Obedience Training should be a top priory for any new puppy or dog in your home! Building a relationship through obedience training gets your life together started off on the right paw. We use positive training methods to teach your dog new skills, how to handle new situations, and how to listen to you. Positive training methods have been scientifically proven to be more successful than other teaching styles. We never use force, fear, or intimidation to train. All of our lessons are filled with praise and fun, so training is enjoyable! We strive to make training with your pup a great bonding experience.


What is Punishment Based Training?


Punishment based training is the practice of training your dog by punishing bad behaviors through the use of intimidation or inflicting pain. Many people are unaware that dogs only have a 1-3 second learning period after they have done a behavior to understand whether it was good or bad. This is why punishment is an extremely ineffective way to train. It is very unlikely that your dog will understand what it is they are being punished for. This is also why we have to be quick with our praise and treats when we use positive reinforcement training.

Punishment based methods were mainly used throughout the 80’s and 90’s until studies brought to light how significant the negative effects were. Sadly, there are still some trainers who use these methods which has made it hard for the public to know which methods they should really be using to train their dog.



Why Punishment Can Have Disastrous Effects

If your dog fears you due to repeated punishment, you will not have a dog who is eager to work for you or do what you ask of them. You will instead have a dog who is afraid to respond to your requests because they fear punishment. A dog who is fearful is much more likely to bite and have major aggression issues down the road. Many dogs who develop fear of humans because of repeated punishment end up in the shelter system.


There is a fine line between punishment and abuse. Punishment does not have to be out of cruel intentions but it can have extreme effects. For example, if a person came home to an accident on the floor and then grabbed their dog by the collar, dragged them over to it and yelled at them, they might not mean any harm by this. They might just intend to teach their dog not to go in the house. The problem is from their dog's perspective they have already passed the time period where they can even remember why they are being punished and are now only learning to be fearful of the person. Repeated experiences like the one just described can create a dog who is afraid of human hands coming towards their face or their collar. Since dogs most commonly bite out of fear you can see how this can quickly turn into a dangerous situation. Now imagine if a child goes up to that dog and tugs on their collar, this is a recipe for a bite and it’s likely they’ll now be another dog who ends up in a shelter.

Dogs who are frequently yelled at, physically restrained, or caused pain by prong collars or shocking devices, have a high chance of developing fear, anxiety, and aggression.


All of our trainers use positive reinforcement training techniques. We do not support the use of any harmful training tools like prong collars, choke chains, or electronic collars. These tools were developed before we had the knowledge that we do now about how dogs learn. Using fear or painful tools to train can cause a lot more harm than many people realize. To the untrained eye many of the old techniques look like they work just fine. But what we now know is that down the road there are many behavior issues that can arise after they are used. For example, you may see a trainer use a shock collar on a dog to stop them from barking but if this dog gets overwhelmed enough and becomes fearful you may now have a bite to deal with instead of a bark.


It's always vital to find the source of the behavior, figuring out why a dog is acting a certain way and changing that emotion is how we can best help them. We stand by our positive reinforcement training methods and their effectiveness. All dogs who go through our training programs will be trained with the best training techniques available. Contact us now to get your dog trained by one of our certified trainers now.