How to Get What You Want in Four Different Ways

There are 4 methods for altering a subject’s behavior, according to the field of behavioral psychology. In this context, changing a dog’s behavior means either getting the dog to do what you want him to do or preventing the dog from engaging in undesirable behaviors:

  • Positive reinforcement 
  • Negative reinforcement 
  • Positive punishment 
  • Negative punishment 

In this context, “positive” and “negative” do not refer to “good” and “bad,” but rather to the question of whether something has been added (positive) or removed (negative) from the situation (negative). 

  • To be positive means to add something. 
  • Negative is the act of taking away something. 
  • The act of increasing the likelihood that a behavior will occur again is known as reinforcement. 
  • The purpose of punishment is to make it less likely that the undesirable behavior will occur again. 

The Role of Communication in Training

The companionship and approval of a pet owner are the two things that a dog wants most from its relationship with its owner, but we silly humans tend to be in the habit of telling our animals:

  • “No!” 
  • “Don’t even think about it!” 
  • “Why did you eat my boots?!” 
  • “Don’t do that!” 
  • “Naughty!” 

Your dog is not engaging in “bad behavior,” and he doesn’t require being shocked or smacked out of it. He simply doesn’t comprehend what it is that you would like him to do and doesn’t yet know how to do it! It is much simpler to communicate “yes,” “good,” and “do more of that” to your dog if you provide him with a rewarding experience (nibbles, stroking, or playing with his favorite toy) each time he does an action that you find acceptable. Your dog isn’t bad, rude, disrespectful, or angry (or any of the various emotional responses we wrongly ascribe to a pup that is “behaving badly”); he is simply untrained. 

So How Exactly Does One Use Positive Reinforcement?

To properly use positive reinforcement with your dog, you need patience, persistence, consistency, and the ability to react very quickly when he or she exhibits the desired behavior. He must make the connection between the positive experience (the reward), and the action that he has taken. Take, for instance: 

When the doorbell rings, your dog is trained to bark and rush to the door to defend you from any potential threats that may be present (i.e. your friend who has come to visit). Aversive training would require you to advise your friend to put their knee up to dissuade your dog from leaping up against them. This is because dogs do not particularly enjoy having their chests kneed in, and you would want to prevent your dog from doing this.

This may stop your dog from jumping up, but it won’t get rid of his anxiety, which is what’s driving him to bark and jump in the first place. It may make his fear worse because not only is he afraid of a threat, but he also gets kneed in the chest for being afraid of the danger. It will take a few patient steps that are continuously followed to alter both his response (no fear) and his behavior (no barking and leaping), but these changes will be well worth the effort. 

The ringing of the doorbell or the sound of a knock at the door is the trigger that indicates danger is on the way. Have a snack prepared for when your friend rings the bell (your friend will be present to help with the schooling of your pup), and the doorbell will go from being a negative experience to a positive one. You should reward your dog before he even has the opportunity to respond to the doorbell or the knock. Make the act of knocking on the door into something positive. Ignore his barking and carry on as normal. If he barks, you shouldn’t reward him. If you knock on the door, you’ll get a treat, which means you won’t have to bark. You will need to move quickly. Your dog will quickly be able to link the door with a good experience, and he will begin to predict the snack when he hears the bell or knocks on the door. 

Give your dog a specific location that he needs to go to retrieve the treats now that he knows the doorbell means he will get them. A couple of meters away from the front door, place a mat or his dog’s bed there. Use the instruction “bed,” “place,” or another favored signifier to train him that this mat is where he will get snacks when you are using the technique of positive reinforcement to teach him. The command should be given, and reinforcement should be done three times.

If you give him the command frequently enough, he will eventually understand that when the doorbell rings and you give it to him, you want him to go to his mat and wait there while you let your friend into the house for a visit. This will take a lot of training and consistency on your part, but he will eventually learn it. Since your dog will eventually connect your friend with happy times and treats, there is absolutely no reason to be concerned about this situation in any way. 

The Peril of Training Methods That Involve Punishment

The majority of dogs show aggressive behavior out of fear. The use of aversive training methods may produce desirable results in terms of changing the behavior of dogs, but they are terrible for your partnership with your dog. Your dog will become afraid of you if you are the one who causes him pain, whether that be through smacking, hitting him on the nose with a rolled-up magazine, using an electronic collar, putting your knee to his chest, or pulling on the chain. This outdated belief system would have you assume that to get your dog to listen and follow you, you should make them afraid of you, but this isn’t the way to build a trusting relationship with your four-legged pal. 

Numerous studies have been conducted over the past nearly two decades to compare and contrast the efficacy of aversive or punishment training with positive reinforcement training. Positive reinforcement training has not only been shown to be beneficial in decreasing defiance, but also in lowering aggressive behavior, which is very clear from almost all of the studies. Dog owners need to earn their pets’ trust before they can “train out” aggressive behavior in their pets. The reactionary and uncontrollable nature of aversive training makes it impossible to establish trust in a dog; in fact, it plants the seeds of suspicion in the dog’s mind. When your dog is afraid of you, he is much more inclined to react angrily to your aggressive behavior by acting aggressively himself. The human-dog bond can be strengthened through the use of positive reinforcement, such as treats, attention, and praise. 

Furkidz Strongly Recommends That Our Pet Owners Show Their Pets Affection and a Positive Attitude at All Times

If you own a dog that has behavioral issues, such as being fearful, confrontational, or otherwise out of control, we strongly recommend that you locate an accredited dog trainer who focuses exclusively on techniques of positive reinforcement to assist you with your dog. There are also a large number of helpful resources that can be found on YouTube. These resources will demonstrate the most effective techniques that can be used to alleviate your dog’s anxiety, as well as to restore the confidence and trust that are required to guarantee that your dog leads a happier and healthier life.