It is a misconception that positive reinforcement trainers just give treats for every behavior. This is simply not true. With positive reinforcement training, we are looking to reinforce behaviors that we like, and ignore or redirect unwanted behaviors. When behaviors are reinforced, they are repeated (if you did not get paid, would you still go to work every day?). For example, if a dog is reinforced for sitting when he approaches a person, he is more likely to sit than jump.
With “traditional training” the trainer is always looking for what the dog does wrong so it can be “corrected”. The biggest problem with this method is that most people “correct” too late or when the dog is actually being good! I was once at an event and saw a dog sitting nicely by his human and out of the blue the person “popped” his pinch collar! That made the dog stand up, then “popped” again! The poor dog was so confused he began to pant and cower from stress! If I could not tell what the owner wanted, how could the dog?
Positive reinforcement trainers spend their time setting the dog up for success. They prevent or redirect unwanted behaviors (when possible) or ignore them. They also are looking out for desirable behaviors so they can reinforce them. This type of training is more rewarding for the human as well as the dog!
If you are looking for tips on how to use positive reinforcement check out:
• Sophia Yin
• Patricia McConnell
• Ian Dunbar
• Karen Pryor