Many people think that positive reinforcement, force free training is all about bribing our dog’s to do things. This is simply not true. Unlike traditional, punishment based training, positive reinforcement training is science based. Numerous studies have been done to show that learning is more effective when the learner is reinforced for desired behaviors.
Most people understand that we give a dog a treat or other reward when they do something we want, but what do we do if they do something “wrong”. As a positive reinforcement trainer, I do not see these behaviors as “wrong” but instead I understand that the dog is not clear about what I want. Depending on the behavior, I may ignore the unwanted behavior and reinforce (or reward) the desired behavior or I may redirect the dog so he has to do another behavior. For example, if a dog jumps on me, I may have the dog sit when he approaches me. If he is sitting, he is unable to jump.
Some unwanted behaviors may need more management. By managing a behavior, we can prevent it from happening until we can teach the dog what we want him to do. This is commonly done with house training. If we put a puppy in a crate when we cannot supervise her, she is less likely going to have an accident (Puppies do not like to go where they sleep). Then when it is time to get the puppy out she can be taken immediately to the back yard to reinforce the correct place to go.
People often make the mistake that dog’s should just “know” what to do. Dogs are like us and they need to be taught how to behave in specific situation. Instead of punishing them for what they don’t know, take the time to teach them what you want them to do.
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