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Thread: Positive Re-inforcement, or Overly Positive?

  1. #1
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    Default Positive Re-inforcement, or Overly Positive?

    Hi all,

    In the thread - Dog digging under fence - by Toobs A really good question arised. I decided to start a new thread as it was not really related to dogs digging under fence.

    The question is - When our training methods become 100% reliant on positive reinforcement, is it in fact going "over the top"?

    Note: Positive reinforcement is when you use rewards and treats when your dog is doing the right thing, rather than punishing it for doing the wrong thing.

    I will quote the post by Hyacinth,
    I don't think of a mild static zap as violent, then again I use a water squirty bottle too - and some training agencies think that is evil - never mind it only acts as a distraction for my dog - and she loves chasing the jet of water. The electric collar at the right setting is only supposed to be an attention getter - in training. Ie to stop the dog chasing the rabbit / sheep / cat / car / jogger and get it to think about something else.

    I suspect training a dog with all positive reward and no negative consequences for its actions is a bit like playing the game of "hot and cold" without using the word "cold". I've yet to see a parent be able to teach a child without using "no", "not for you", and some system of time out or negative consequence as well as the positive training methods.

    My dog seems much more upset when I ignore it for being naughty than any jet of water or collar zap would do - unfortunately this only works when dog wants my attention - if she's off after a cat - that could cause permanent eye damage should she catch it - me ignoring her - is going to have no useful correction / distraction / disengagement effect, where as a quick squirt or zap by her collar - would.
    Pay special attention to the part "I've yet seen a parent to be able to teach a child without saying no or not for you"

    This arises a really hot question and I would love for you to give me some feedback and let everyone else know what you think about this. I mean we can all be and always reward your dog for doing what you want it to do (ie. If she is yapping at your ankles then you take the opposite approach and wait for him to stop yapping and then reward him)

    I, myself am a big fan of positive training works. I think that it is the absolute best way to train your dogs, as aversive methods are teaching your dogs to learn by fear. Although sometimes I wonder, wouldn't it just be ten times easier to just give him a quick slap on the nose and he would stop the yapping at your ankles.

    So this is what I am discussing - where do you draw the line for positive reinforcement and overly positive works.

    I would love to hear your opinion!

    Cheers,
    Charlie
    ~Charlie~
    Busta the apricot poodle x spaniel
    http://www.the-organic-mind.com

  2. #2
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    While I am not a long time or very knowledgeable dog owner, I fail to see the logic in waiting for the dog to stop barking and then rewarding it. To me, it seems a bit like waiting for your dog to start digging so that you can "catch it in the act", so to speak. That is, how is the dog supposed to know what it's been rewarded for?

    Because of this, I don't use positive reinforcement in this manner. I am a big fan of the word "No", in a growling "obey-me" kind of voice :P I have only had a few puppies, but thus far doing so to stop the puppy biting/barking/whatnot. I believe this is a kind of distraction, I-don't-like-this kind of training?

    As for positive training, I will use this when my dog will know what he's being rewarded for. Eg. I call him and he comes back after running around a park for a little while. This I will reward him for.

    I, for one, don't think being overly positive is such a good thing. I understand that a dog does what it does to please us, but shouldn't it also do things because we are the pack leader and we don't like it? How are dog's supposed to learn if they can do what they want (eg. bark, dig, not come back when called, etc.) and appear to be randomly rewarded? To me, and I know others' opinions will no doubt disagree, I think an owner has tenuous control over a dog with "over the top" positive reinforcement training. I don't think a dog has any kind of obligation to do what the owner wants it to do if it wants to do something more.

  3. #3

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    I don't think that all positive works with dogs, just as it doesn't with children. There has to be set boundaries and limits, or frustration and acting up is the end result.

    I'm not talking physical negative. But the world has good and bad, it has yes and no. And to aviod that and pretend it's all sweet and happy is asking for trouble.

  4. #4
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    Silver - Yes very true, I "Fail to see the logic in that."
    Yes I agree the Word "No" in a growly voice can be very effective. It get's the job done and there's no stuffing around waiting for your dog to do the opposite and then "random rewarding" that may even confuse your dog.

    This really outlines that even some non- positive reinforcement based training can be done without using violence. Saying no, is not necessarily "positive" but it can be very effective.

    Natty - Wow! Exactly what I was saying. You don't have to use physical negative to get your way. And yes, there do have to be boundaries, or your dog would be getting away with anything

    Cheers,
    Charlie
    ~Charlie~
    Busta the apricot poodle x spaniel
    http://www.the-organic-mind.com

  5. #5

    Default Dogluver

    I say "No!", I say it a lot more now, boundaries are important.

    I am only just starting to use treats more, rather than relying on praise and pats etc.

    Am not into using fear to get the behaviour I want.

  6. #6

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    We have a wooping stick here - need I say more ?



    Better explain before I get hung
    Our wopper is a rolled up paper lighlty taped all over with sticky tape ( whatever tape is at hand because they tend to get chewed on a regular basis here).
    I am a great believer in positive training but there is also -and I believe- will always be a time when that awaiting the bad behaviour to stop so you can reward will stop is just not going to cut it.

    In situations when I think that waiting and using positive then out comes the wooper. As yet , I think we have actauly touched dogs with times you can count on both hands and they were not being beaten senseless either.
    Most times we need only say "wheres the wooper" and we suddenly have a well behaved dog. And is in no way fearful of us - at all .
    Respectful though ? Hell yes.


    Its inetersting to note,a friend and I have regular discussions on dog/owner behaviour of today compared to when we were children.
    Alot may have come along way...but gosh alot seemed to have go backward.

    Some problems of today were never even heard of when we were children.
    Dog aggression was exceedingly less.
    The family dog often lived out the back,often unfenced at that.Came everywhere with us , this included all the other kids dogs as well. Often there would 10 kids and 5 dogs.
    And you know what?
    No trouble.

    I find it interesting to delve into where we,the humans,got it wrong.
    Well we did somewhere didn't we ?
    The dogs didn't seem to change behaviour - we did.

    Just food for thought.
    GageDesign Pet Photography
    Site still in construction so will post link when it's finished.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by silvershadowwolf24 View Post
    While I am not a long time or very knowledgeable dog owner, I fail to see the logic in waiting for the dog to stop barking and then rewarding it. To me, it seems a bit like waiting for your dog to start digging so that you can "catch it in the act", so to speak. That is, how is the dog supposed to know what it's been rewarded for?
    I just have to correct this.

    What you have described above is not positive re-inforcement. You wouldn't wait for the dog to stop barking and then reward it. You would offer other alternatives to barking when there is the same or similar lure and then reward the dog when it doesn't bark.

    Lets look at toilet training a dog as an example.

    You take your dog outside to toilet at regular intervals when you know that the dog will most likely need to go to the toilet. When the dog goes to the toilet outside you praise them. If we used your idea, we would wait until the dog finished peeing inside and then praise them. It doesn't make sense does it........

    In having sad that, I am a big believer in the command 'no' and setting boundaries for both my dogs and my children. I also utilise a water spray and on the rare occassion I will have something in my hand, such as a shoe, and I will slam this down on the floor or a wall for emphasis.

    I have also been known to stamp my foot hard on the wooden or tiled floors when I have shoes on and loudly exclaiming 'no!'. It gets their attention that's for sure.
    A pessimist sees the glass as half empty;
    An optimist sees the glass as half full;
    A realist just finishes the damn thing and refills it.

  8. #8
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    I agree with you, Anne. I was addressing Dogluver's example in the original post.

    "I mean we can all be and always reward your dog for doing what you want it to do (ie. If she is yapping at your ankles then y'ou take the opposite approach and wait for him to stop yapping and then reward him)"

  9. #9
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    The person who originally commented on positive reinforcement doesn't seem to have a hell of a lot of knowledge of or understanding about operant conditioning.

    There are four quadrants - the only ones asked about here are positive reinforcement and positive punishment.

    I prefer a mix of positive reinforcment and negative punishment - I only use positive punishment when it is life or death.

    Remember - positive simply means to add, negative means to take away.

    I reward positive behaviour, I ignore negative behaviour within reason, I remove the reinforcer for a negative behaviour where applicable and I punish only if I think a lesson can be learnt then and there - otherwise I am not actually teaching anything and thus the ideas of positive and negative are moot.

  10. #10
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    Occy, what would be an example of positive punishment?

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