Friday, May 18, 2012

Reward and Punishment

Rewards and punishments get discussed an awful lot in the dog world.

If you want to be more precise, though, you need to go the behavioral route, and talk about reinforcement. In dog training books, and on sites, you may or may not have seen the little grid with "positive reinforcement", "negative reinforcement", "positive punishment", and "negative punishment" in it.

Now in this case, positive and negative may not mean what you think they mean. Nor does punishment.




When I try to be all smart and revisit psychology texts regarding this, it muddies the waters. So I'll try to make it simple, and brief, for your benefit and mine.

Positive means adding something.

Negative means taking something away.

Got that? It doesn't mean good or evil, it has nothing to do with loving thy neighbor, it's far more math-y than that.

So.

Positive Reinforcement: You praise your dog for greeting you calmly.

Negative Reinforcement: Your dog barks, and the mailman goes away.

Positive Punishment: Your dog chews on a book and you yell at her.

Negative punishment: Your dog jumps up to greet you, and you turn away.


Much simpler than diagrams. But, if you want to read it, the Reinforcement article on Wikipedia is rather more detailed.





13 comments:

  1. That IS a great way to remember it! I'm hoping it will stick with me this time...I haven't been able to remember these distinctions in 3 years of trying to :)

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    1. I know, right? It's like every time you try to think about it, it just gets more convoluted! Very strange, I think.

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  2. Great post! (And Elka is so beautiful :-D )

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  3. The best punishment I've found for my dogs is to ignore the naughty one and lavish attention on the others.

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    1. Ooh, that's devious! I'll have to tell my fiance that we need a second dog in order to train Elka. He'll go for that, right? (not that Elka is all that naughty very often...)

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  4. These seem to be commonly mixed up and another clarification is never a bad idea! Great and informative post!

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    1. I mix them up if I don't think about them as simply as possible! It's bizarre.

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  5. Great post. Now if only I could find a way to *keep* the mailman from going away and I'd be set. The mailman has Felix convinced that he is as tough as Fluffy from Harry Potter ;0)

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    1. Hah, we might as well share a mailman. I've had mine leave a "failed delivery" slip in the mailbox in lieu of actually knocking on our door. I don't think he's ever even SEEN Elka, just heard her single big "SOMEBODY'S OUT THERE" bark.

      Though, poor mail carriers. I can imagine they have to deal with a lot of poorly handled dogs.

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  6. Thank you for posting this! Anything to spread the word helps. I can't count how many times I have tried to explain this to people and get blank stares or frustrated responses of, "training is training--it's just a dog!" *smh*

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    1. You're welcome!

      Some people I know, when they ask if a dog is "trained", mean potty trained and potty trained only. It's kind of odd!

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  7. Adore your own publish name as well as such as the discussion as well! This enables you to believe and become amused! Many thanks with regard to discussing.


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