Clickers are often used in training dogs and even other animals. These are sounds or actions, basically a click which signals the dog when it has done something right. It is a way of marking the moment when a dog shows the right behavior. It also helps owner buy buying enough time so that he or she can get the treat and give it to the dog.
A lot of people like use clickers while training their dogs. According to them, using clickers increases the effectiveness of the training methods that they use. On the other hand, a some people do not using clickers. They find it awkward and too complicated and prefer not using it. However, according to studies, clickers, verbal markers etc, did not make much of a difference in increasing the efficiency of the training of a dog. Hence, it is a totally individual choice to use or not use clickers while training dogs.
NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT IN DOG TRAINING
Negative reinforcement is another way of training dogs as well as other animals. It is just the opposite of positive reinforcement where something is taken away in order to increase the frequency of positive behavior of the dog or any other animal.
So what are the things that you can take away from a dog as a negative reinforcement? Let us look at some of the examples.
In order to train a dog to sit, the owner or the trainer pushes the bottom of the dog to sit and is released when it is stable in the same sitting position. This a way of negative reinforcement where removing the pressure from the bottom of the dog is believed to make the frequency of the behavior go up.
Again, usage of electric shock collars is another example of using negative reinforcements in dog training. Here, the unpleasant feeling from the shock collar is not removed until the dog behaves or acts according to the command. Here removing the unpleasant feeling makes the frequency of positive behavior from the dog go up.
Even though these methods can sometimes prove to work in training dogs, however, they cannot be considered as the best methods. In fact, many studies and researches show that using negative reinforcements in dog training has a lot of risks and negative effects.
The whole idea of using negative reinforcements is that something aversive has to be first applied on the dog so that it can be removed later on as a reward to increase the frequency of a certain behaviour. For example, while teaching a dog to to sit, negative force or something aversive is applied to the dog which decreases the frequency of standing. Technically, in this case, the dog is punished for standing.
Using methods and techniques like these where something negative of aversive is applied to a dog in order to train it has a lot of risks regarding its welfare. Using such methods also increases the chance of aggressive responses from the dog and can even lead the dog to be fearful or afraid. According to studies, using negative reinforcements have always been less effective than reward based positive reinforcements.
POSITIVE PUNISHMENT IN DOG TRAINING
Positive punishment is an important aspect in dog training. It is way of punishing a dog for an unpleasant behavior while adding something at the same time to decrease the frequency of the same behavior.
Some of the examples of positive punishment in dog training are – tapping the nose of the dog with an object, say newspaper, whenever it does something unpleasant, using citronella collars to stop unwanted barking, rolling the dog to a down position and holding it after it did something which was unwanted by the owner etc.
Some of these positive punishments are also called corrections or corrective methods from time to time. For instance, pulling the leash when the dog does something unwanted by the owner is called “leash correction”.
Dog training is very tricky concept and people struggle to understand what is actually good for their pet’s welfare and what’s not, especially when it comes to using positive punishments and corrective techniques. A lot of time people have claimed that certain punishments do not harm dogs. They tried the same kind “punishments” like using a prong collar or a shock collar on themselves and said since it did not hurt them so it must not be a bad thing for their dogs too.
These little experiments never seem to work. The reason being people are usually in control when they tug the prong collar on themselves or apply shock through a shock collar. They also know when the pull or the shock is coming which is not the case when it comes to dogs. Having no control itself a source of stress. Again, a dog’s skin on the neck is a lot different to a person’s hand. A dog’s skin beneath its fur is actually a lot thinner than we think. Also considering a dog’s anatomy, putting pressure on its neck is never a good idea as doing so may harm the windpipe of dogs making them develop difficulties in breathing, especially in brachycephalic dogs. Hence, certain positive punishments, as they are claimed, may not be the best for the welfare of your dog and you must think twice before implementing any of these corrective methods.
RISKS OF USING POSITIVE PUNISHMENT IN DOG TRAINING
Using positive punishments while training dogs is an aversive method. A lot of scientific study done on dog training and using positive punishments show that using such aversive methods may have certain risks and many undesirable outcomes. These studies also say that using these techniques or methods are not the best for your dog’s welfare. There is no scientific data to back the concept that using positive punishments can make dog training easier or more effective than reward based techniques. In fact, dog experts actually recommend dog owners and trainers to use as much reward based techniques as possible while training their dogs and avoid any methods which include aversion.
Increase in fear, aggression and stress are some of the most commonly reported issues which occur due to the use of positive punishments while training dogs. Some of the most commonly used positive punishments are hitting or kicking the dog, using prong collars, shock collars, yelling at the dog etc. The more people use positive punishments in training their dogs, the higher is the risk of their dogs to respond aggressively. This not only puts the owner and his or her family members at danger but also poses as a threat to visitors, other pets, strangers outside the home etc. According to studies, people who use positive punishments also report behavioral problems in their dogs.
A lot of time dog owners and trainers claim that using positive punishments are more beneficial in effectively training dogs especially the ones meant for work like guard dogs for sheep. This leads people to use aversive methods like shock or prong collars However, no scientific data backs this claim and in fact, using such methods does more harm than good. Certain positive punishment methods like shock collars are hugely problematic for any dog’s welfare. Such concerns have lead dog experts to call out for a ban on such aversive methods throughout the globe. Many of such techniques have already been banned in certain places.
The “American Veterinary Society for Animal Behavior” has stated that – “Research shows that dogs do not need to be physically punished to learn how to behave, and there are significant risks associated with using punishment (such as inhibiting learning, increasing fear, and/or stimulating aggressive events).
Therefore, trainers who routinely use choke collars, pinch collars, shock collars, and other methods of physical punishment as a primary training method should be avoided.”
Again, there are a quite a lot of people who firmly believe that the only way to tame and train aggressive dogs is through positive punishments. However, this is not at all true. In fact, studies show that using aversive methods actually increases the aggression in such dogs which can be dangerous for the owners as well as other people around. These studies state that the main reason behind the aggression of dogs is fear and anxiety; using positive punishments and other aversive methods does nothing to address these important factors which is the cause of aggression in the first place.
For instance, if you punish your dog for growling at you or anyone else, you are not actually addressing the reason behind its behavior. Like your dog could be growling because it was afraid, or it did not want to be petted or even because you were taking away something it wanted like the food bowl. When you punish your dog it does learn not to growl however, its underlying issue remains unresolved. Punishing your dog will never make it learn and understand that it is okay to be petted or someone is taking its food bowl away only to refill it etc. Hence, the next time chances are that your dog might just bite you instead of growling.
If your dog is growing at you, do not try to punish it. Instead stop and look around for reasons that could possibly make your dog angry, anxious or even afraid. Try to find a solution to calm your dog bg resolving its issue. A lot of times, finding out what is bothering your dog is quite difficult. Take the help of professional dog trainers at such times. Even if an aggressive dog is trying to bite you, do not move forward to hit or kick it instead be absolutely still.
Using any kind of positive punishments can be extremely harmful for fearful or anxious dogs. Punishing such a dog will only increase its fear and anxiety. Using such aversive methods could also make your dog become afraid of you because they associate you as the source of punishment. In such situations it is the best to seek out help from a dog trainer which will be beneficial for both you and your furry friend.
By now you must have a good idea of what it takes to be a responsible dog owner. Owning a dog is not just about fun and games, it also requires a great deal of responsibility and commitment. Make sure you take your responsibility seriously and act keeping your dog’s best interests in mind. Hopefully this guide has answered all your questions regarding dog ownership.