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I've read some threads which talk about "positive reinforcement". Can someone/anyone define that? Is it clicker training? Or something else? Very curious. Thanks!

(as I currently have a 4 mo old that I'm working with)
 

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It is a method that rewards positive behavior.

Whats a reward?
A happy sound from the handler, a treat, a pat, a click. Anything that works that your dog likes. They generally want to please you, and giving then the reward lets them know they did. Need to remember that the dogs memory is very short from the action performed. Treats must be given quickly. i..e command to sit, when that butt touches the ground, the treat should be in your hand moving towards its mouth.


Whats the other methods? Choke collars around the neck. Yelling loud and repeatedly.
 

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Positive reinforcer = a stimulus, an event desired by the organism which, when given immediately after an act, will increase the probability of that act occuring again. Typically praise, pats, treats.

Contrast with

Negative reinforcer = a stimulus or event which, when its termination is made contigent on a particular response, will increase the probability of that act occurring again. Typically turning off or escaping from an uncomfortable stimulus, e.g., sound, light, shock, temperature

Contrast with

Punisher = a noxious (unpleasant, undesired) stimulus or event which, when it's applied immediately after a response is made, will reduce the probability of that act occuring again e.g., scolding, hitting, shock.

Jean Donaldson's book "Culture Clash" (about $12 +S&H from Amazon) tells how to train dogs.

 

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Its a term borrowed from the "operant conditioning" part of learning theory. ;)

Basically OC states that there are four ways that learning takes place, represented by four "quadrants". The terms positive and negative here are used the same way they are in math when dealing in integers. Positive means to add and negative means to take away.

So, one quadrant is positive reinforcement. This states that to increase the frequency of a desired behaviour, you should add a reinforcer after the desired behaviour is performed, upping the odds of its re-occurance. So, giving a dog a treat when they sit is an example of positive reinforcement. You're "adding" something. (the treat)

The quadrant that goes along with that one most often in terms of dog training is negative punishment. Negative punishment states that in order to decrease the frequency of an undesired behaviour, one should take away a reinforcer. So an example of this would be putting the puppy in a "time out" in the next room when they bite. undesired behavior = biting, consequence = the removal of something "good", being with people/play, etc.

The other two are used in corrective based training more.

Positive punishment is when you add a punisher to the equation to decrease the frequency of an undesired behaviour. An example would be hitting a dog when they bite you, you're "adding" the hit.

The last is negative reinforcement. This is my least favorite, as it basically states that in order to teach a new behaviour, you add punishment until the behaviour is performed and then take it away only when said behaviour has occured. An example that Skinner used with pigeons was to electrify the floor they stood on in their little metal cages, so they were being constantly shocked, and the shock would turn off only when they pecked food from a certain dish, teaching them that the way to turn off the shock was to eat from that dish.

Little long winded, but I hope that helped! :)
 
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