It can be difficult to know if you are training your dog in the best way possible given that there is such conflicting advice out there.
The core difference between positive-reinforcement based dog training (also referred to as reward based) and negative-reinforcement based dog training (also referred to as punishment based) is that one involves reinforcing behaviour while the other involves punishing behaviour.
Positive Reinforcement in Dog Training
Positive reinforcement-based dog training involves rewarding your dog for good behaviour. This is the approach that we teach at the ISCP Most other well-educated trainers also advocate this approach.
A good trainer should be able to motivate a dog through positive methods. This means that the dog will be happy, excited and enthusiastic when they're learning. If you've ever seen a trainer that uses negative reinforcement or punishment, you'll notice that their methods are often not effective (especially with dogs who are already fearful or anxious).
Punishment in Dog Training
The use of punishment in dog training is a controversial topic. Some trainers believe that using punishment is the only way to train dogs, while others believe that it should never be used.
The use of punishment in dog training has been shown to negatively affect dogs' welfare, and there is no scientific evidence that it improves the effectiveness of training methods.
Dogs depend on us for food, water and shelter; they also depend on us for social interactions with other dogs and humans. If we remove these things from them, it can cause them significant stress and anxiety. This can have a negative impact on their behaviour and lead to poor welfare.
There are two types of punishment: positive punishment and negative reinforcement. Positive punishment involves giving something unpleasant (eg taking away something pleasant) if the dog does something we don't like. Negative reinforcement involves taking away something unpleasant (eg giving something unpleasant) if the dog does something we don't like.
Both types of punishment can have a negative impact on the welfare of dogs because they create stress or fear that can lead to aggression or anxiety-related behaviours such as barking or chewing.
What Does The ISCP Think?
At the ISCP we believe that dog training should focus on helping dogs learn what we want them to do, rather than forcing or scaring them for unwanted behaviour.
Reward based training is better for both your dog and you. It’s better for the dog because it is less stressful, so they are more likely to want to work with you in the future. And it’s better for you because reward based training is much more effective at teaching new skills or changing existing behaviours.
The misconception that positive reinforcement involves giving treats all the time is easy to understand—but it's just not true. Rewards are used as reinforcers, simply to make a dog's useful behaviour stronger. Reinforcers have power cause canine enjoyment and build the dog's optimism and confidence, which is why they are so effective.
At the ISCP we believe that reward-based training is more humane and effective than punishment-based methods and all the recent science says the same.
If you've ever considered becoming a dog trainer, you're at the right place. The ISCP is an online course provider that will educate you on everything you need to know about being a dog trainer. The course is accredited as professional development by iPet Network and there are no prerequisites and no experience required. You learn from the best - from the ground up.