Positive Dog Training

By Sally Gutteridge | Posts

What is positive dog training? Is there such a thing as a positive or negative dog training?

Basically, the terms negative vs negative come from Skinner’s operant conditioning. You may already be familiar with the four quadrants of operant conditioning, if you are not, click here to learn more.

But basically it means that you are either giving something (positive) or taking something away (negative). It has nothing to do with either good or bad.

Positive Reinforcement Training with a Box:

Many dog training sessions can be catered around a simple box. Each day you can teach your dog to do something different involving the box. You can place the box in the training area and sit with your clicker. When your dog offers even the slightest behavior towards the action you have decided to train on any particular session then click and offer a reward. Then build on the first action by watching and offering a click for progress towards your goal.

For example if you would like your dog to touch the box with his front paw you should only click when his paw is lifted from the ground. Gradually the paw lifting will increase as it is reinforced. By ignoring any behavior the is not linked to your goal you are correctly using positive dog training. Eventually after working out that he needs to use his paw somehow for reward your dog will begin to tap things. He will at some point tap the box.

Other options with the box can include

  • Nose nudging
  • Pushing
  • Placing objects in the box
  • Taking objects out of the box
  • Getting on
  • Getting in
  • Walking around the box
  • Walking backwards around the box
  • Jumping over
  • Open the box
  • Close the box

In fact anything that you can think of and is safe can be taught. Be warned though each new action learned involving the box will probably be offered at the beginning of each positive dog training session. As a dog trainer you will thoroughly enjoy your dog’s repertoire and be very proud of your mutual achievements. If you teach your dog to do 101 things with the box then you may need to put plenty of time aside for his pre learning repertoire.

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