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Hm. I personally don't believe positive reinforcement is the only way to train, I believe there should be a mix of positive and negative methods. Though I come from an equestrian background where negative reinforcement is more the norm in training, so perhaps that colours my thinking.
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Though I come from an equestrian background where negative reinforcement is more the norm in training, so perhaps that colours my thinking.
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There are trainers who do not use negative reinforcement even with horses. Not even bridles/bits, and they seem to have good results. Just because something is the norm doesn't mean it's required, or even the best.
 

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Hm. I personally don't believe positive reinforcement is the only way to train, I believe there should be a mix of positive and negative methods. Though I come from an equestrian background where negative reinforcement is more the norm in training, so perhaps that colours my thinking.
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Nobody thinks it's the only way to train, just that works with the least risk for the dog.
 

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There are trainers who do not use negative reinforcement even with horses. Not even bridles/bits, and they seem to have good results. Just because something is the norm doesn't mean it's required, or even the best.
To compete in pretty much any discipline you must use a bridle/bit, which is by definition a tool of negative reinforcement. Leg pressure is also a tool of negative reinforcement, I don't see many trainers trying to go wo that. You can train horses using mainly positive methods, but it is simply not possible to use all positive methods, nor, IMHO, is it ideal. Again IMHO, for dogs, it is ideal to use mainly positive methods w some negative reinforcement. JMO. YMMV. It is ideal for horses, IME, to use mainly negative reinforcement w some positive reinforcement. I am a professional horse trainer/riding instructor. This is what I do for a living.
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Wanted to edit but it was too late: horses trained using mainly positive methods are often "trick trained," meaning they are not truly trained in partnership w the handler, but are just performing tricks on command, instead of there being a back and forth dialogue between rider and horse as there should be. W a clicker or marker word there is no dialogue. W a bit and leg pressure there is a ton of "conversation" between the horse and an educated rider going on at all times.
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I like that article.

I think the problem with just about anything is there is conflicting information all over the place. You think you've done your research and that you have found someone who knows what they are doing (not just with dogs - with all things!) and it either goes right and you're happy, or it goes wrong and you discover the "other" side of the coin and realize you made a mistake.

The best thing that can be done is to go into a situation and ask for explanations. "Why does this work?" "Why wouldn't something else work?". The people who really know what they're talking about would be able to answer those questions honestly and well - the rest will expose themselves eventually.

But man, wouldn't it just be awesome if everyone was honest, not only about their methods and abilities, but also about any shortcomings - my absolute favorite people to work with are those who admit when they don't know something, but are willing to try and find the answer - even if it doesn't "mold" with their current line of thinking.
 

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To compete in pretty much any discipline you must use a bridle/bit, which is by definition a tool of negative reinforcement. Leg pressure is also a tool of negative reinforcement, I don't see many trainers trying to go wo that. You can train horses using mainly positive methods, but it is simply not possible to use all positive methods, nor, IMHO, is it ideal. Again IMHO, for dogs, it is ideal to use mainly positive methods w some negative reinforcement. JMO. YMMV. It is ideal for horses, IME, to use mainly negative reinforcement w some positive reinforcement. I am a professional horse trainer/riding instructor. This is what I do for a living.
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See, this is where I get confused on the "positive vs. negative" debate.

If you're looking at the quadrant, not all positive is good. Positive reinforcement is good, but positive punishment is not so much. I do believe that negative reinforcement has it's place in training as long as it's not aversive. IMO, I'd rather it be an issue of "aversive vs. nonaversive" instead of throwing positive and negative around.

I'm not a horsewoman as such, but I grew up on a ranch surrounded by other ranches - bits are an example of negative reinforcement but I wouldn't say they are aversive necessarily - though there are some out there. Same with leg pressure - properly applied, it's not aversive, but kicking the daylights out of a horse sure is.

But, I don't claim to be a professional trainer by any means, so maybe I'm interpreting it all wrong. That's my disclaimer, haha.
 

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Wanted to edit but it was too late: horses trained using mainly positive methods are often "trick trained," meaning they are not truly trained in partnership w the handler, but are just performing tricks on command,
Alexander Nevzorov. Mark Rashid. Carolyn Resnick. Klaus Hempfling. I have seen some of their work, and it amazes me - it really does seem like communication, not trick-training, and often enough the people aren't even touching the horses, or at least touching them minimally. What do you think about their methods and results?

o compete in pretty much any discipline you must use a bridle/bit, which is by definition a tool of negative reinforcement.
Kind of like a leash and collar/harness, eh? I've seen people ride horses without any kind of headgear, using only their legs and balance and even when I was in 4-H 45 years ago, we were told that we should let the horse know what we wanted by the rein against its neck, not by pulling his mouth. We were encouraged to try hackamores as well.


See, this is where I get confused on the "positive vs. negative" debate.
As do I. I know leashes are negative, but I have to use one - am I being horrible and mean to my dog? Sometimes, when I really have to move along and he still wants to sniff everything, I tug on his leash to reinforce "Let's go". I'm imposing my own timetable on to him, and maybe that's not fair either.

Anyway, another awesome article by Eileen, just because it helps me sometimes when I'm confused about where positive ends and negative begins ... My Training Philosophy - eileenanddogseileenanddogs
 

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See, this is where I get confused on the "positive vs. negative" debate.

If you're looking at the quadrant, not all positive is good. Positive reinforcement is good, but positive punishment is not so much. I do believe that negative reinforcement has it's place in training as long as it's not aversive. IMO, I'd rather it be an issue of "aversive vs. nonaversive" instead of throwing positive and negative around.

I'm not a horsewoman as such, but I grew up on a ranch surrounded by other ranches - bits are an example of negative reinforcement but I wouldn't say they are aversive necessarily - though there are some out there. Same with leg pressure - properly applied, it's not aversive, but kicking the daylights out of a horse sure is.

But, I don't claim to be a professional trainer by any means, so maybe I'm interpreting it all wrong. That's my disclaimer, haha.

The way the quadrant was explained to me is that positive does not mean good, it means that something was added to achieve the desired result. Negative means something is subtracted.

With positive reinforcement we usually add treats or something the dog finds desirable so it wants to continue doing the behavior. With positive punishment we add something the dogs finds undesirable to stop the behavior, it may be leash pops, shaker cans, hand bites, alpha rolls, etc..

With negative reinforcement something unpleasant is stopped when the dog does the desired behavior. I've heard of it being used in dog training to teach a dog to take an object in it's mouth when a command is given.

With negative punishment something good is with held until the dog does the desired behavior. It's the one that a lot of us that use positive reinforcement use. An example that I often use would be not letting my dog continue walking until he sits at a street corner. I with hold what he wants (continuing the walk) until he sits.

Negative Reinforcement in Dog Training
 
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Hm. I personally don't believe positive reinforcement is the only way to train, I believe there should be a mix of positive and negative methods. Though I come from an equestrian background where negative reinforcement is more the norm in training, so perhaps that colours my thinking.
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I think if everyone was honest we'd all admit to using both sides of the quadrant, both the positive side and the negative one. The question really is which of the 4 we use.

I try and stick as much as possible with the positive reinforcement one. I want to encourage good behavior in the best way possible and I want to make training and learning as fun as possible, and positive reinforcement is the way to go.

I do need to stop unwanted behavior though, and waving a treat at him does not work when he's going ballistic because he's spotted a serial killer, aka a harmless neighbor, walking past the window, so I venture into the negative punishment part of the quadrant, and remove my little lunatic from his beloved window. I let him go back and if he's quiet he can stay, if not I remove him again. I don't just do that though, I also am working on giving him treats for watching the neighbors quietly (positive reinforcement). He has a choice, he can watch quietly and get the treats, or he can bark and get taken from the window.

Completely honestly though, yes I've been known to use one of the other quandrants and I'm not proud to admit it. I've used positive punishment, it's rare, but I occasionally use it. Zody every now and then takes it into his head that someone we are standing near needs to be chased away and will charge the person, when he does that I have no choice but to pull back o the leash to stop him. He stops short and I know it's not pleasant for him. I'm usually good at reading him and know if I can stand with him by a person, but every now and then he goes from seeming to ignore them to lunatic mode in a few seconds.

As far as I know I never use negative reinforcement.
 

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@Rain - yes, that's how I understand the quadrant too. I just get confused when people say they are "all positive" and use other aspects of the quadrant in their training; it's fine and they have their place, the terminology is just off.

So to me, it just comes down to how aversive a technique is.
 

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I think everyone here has probably used negative reinforcement at least unintentionally. If you pull on a leash to walk a dog the pressure from the collar or harness stops when they move in the direction you want them to go- the release of pressure is negative reinforcement. Taking away something undesirable (leash pressure) to reinforce a behavior (walking).

I use negative reinforcement when I'm off leash hiking. I work Mia on leash before I let her off. Letting her off leash and ending the training is reinforcement for listening to me when I'm working with her.

I think everyone ends up using all of them at some point or the other, even if it's unintentional. The thing that distinguishes different training philosophies (to me) is which quadrants the trainer strives to focus on.


Lol and I just read the article before posting and the author uses the example of leash pressure for negative reinforcement as well!
 

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I think if everyone was honest we'd all admit to using both sides of the quadrant, both the positive side and the negative one. The question really is which of the 4 we use.

Thank you. That is the part of the blog post that I like. I wish people were more honest, especially on this forum. There are people who will jump down your throat for an e-collar while at the same time advocate "time outs", "yelping" when nipped, "being a tree" etc.

This is actually a huge problem because what is the #1 think you hear around here about corrections? That they're hard to do accurately and incredibly damaging if not timed correctly.

Which is why its so dangerous to not recognize what you're doing, because if you don't realize you're correcting or adverse conditioning you can't be focused on it's correct implementation. This is why I HATE (in caps) reading about people putting their dog in time out in a play pen or a crate for bad behavior. Understanding that correction requires the dog to be capable of reasoning on a level unbelievably higher than than what is required to correctly associate a correction from an e-collar. Not to mention the risk of erroneous association between the stimulus and the correction is similarly disproportionate.
 

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The main problem I have with the blog post in the original post is that it implies that the doctor in the example is using some sort of pseudo science and that the patient was just lucky to escape the horrific side effects.

Thats not true, P+ and R- are based on at least as much science and training success stories as R+ only training.

On a side note the whole doom and gloom about the dangers of balanced training reminds me a bit of my mom telling me as a teenager, don't pick your black heads or they'll get infect and you'll end up with a face like swiss cheese. Ever been to the dermatologist? 12 years of training so they can do exactly what mom told you not to do while explaining why it's actually a good thing.

I'm not a denier of pure positive training out of hand like some talking heads on the internet. I've seen (mostly on the internet), some AMAZING behaviors trained with a clicker. I'm a true believer that it can be done. What I also believe, and this is why I use "balanced" techniques, is that its much much more difficult. Maybe not a huge problem for professional trainers who don't have anything else to do, but, when you take the word "no" (and synonymous behavior) out of your vocabulary you're removing half the information you can give to your dog and training becomes that much more difficult. The result of which is a dog that is not trained.

I believe that a dog trained to a level of training X via pure positive training is better off than a dog trained to the same level with balanced training. I also believe that a dog trained to that X level with balanced training is better off than a dog who's gotten to an X/2 standard of training via pure positive techniques. Does pure positive training require 2x the man hours of balanced training, maybe not at the expert level, but for a majority of intermediate - advanced trainers I think so.

Most of us who are not professional dog trainers have a limited amount of time dedicated to dog training. Starting from a 24 hr day we sleep for 6-8 hrs, we work for 8-10, we might spend a couple hours commuting to work, we have to feed ourselves, we have to feed our dogs, excercise them, we have other hobbies, we might have kids or relationships that demand our time, etc. How much is left for dedicated training? Not much.

Which is why for most of us the solution is to complement dedicated training sessions with constant training. To misquote Alec Baldwin from an excellent flick, "A! B! T! A. Always. B. Be. T. Training". I'm constantly talking to my dogs and 95% of what comes out of my mouth is one of two things "No" "Very good". My negative and positive markers respectively. Everything the dog is doing is either desired or not desired or neutral. Regardless the degree of how undesired or desired the behavior is, consistently and accurately employing positive and negative markers works to shape behavior.
 
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