Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What is Positivity-Based Training?

Positive reinforcement training is a fun, loving, humane method favored by many modern animal behaviorists. Dogs discover for themselves that positive behavior equals good stuff. The role of the human is to help guide furry students along by marking desired behaviors (either vocally, with hand gestures, and/or with a clicker.) Combined with consistent human leadership, most dogs feel a natural motivation to succeed and look forward to training sessions, eager to figure out what they can do to win their "fabulous prizes" (supercool things like treats, praise, affection, & feelings of accomplishment.)

Positive reinforcement techniques are the ONLY techniques that I use in training, and I have found them wonderfully effective.

In the past, traditional training techniques relied heavily on "forcing dogs to obey..." primarily using physical manipulation and/or fear (which would include using choke collars, shock collars, "alpha rolls," or dominance-heavy curriculum.) Some of these methods just don't work, and even though some of them can work, in my opinion... they do not kindle the same strong, loving, and truly respectful bond between the species that pure, positive reinforcement methods create.

What sets modern positivity-based training apart from more old-fashioned methods is that the animals involved are actually making the decision to perform a specific behavior of their own free will. Rather than simply subduing dogs, you are guiding them. You are encouraging them to think, and empowering them with the tools that they need to the make wise choices you will approve of.

Positivity-based training requires consistency, and patience on the part of the humans involved. Though it does take commitment, the benefits of positivity-based training are well-worth the effort. These techniques have been proven to work, not just with dogs, but with exotic animals such as lions, bears, dolphins (and even goldfish!)

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