by Vasilis Borompokas
The positive training can be applied to many kinds of animals. This incentive practice helps to mobilize your pet. It learns happily to respond to your commands, and you don´t have to pressure or force your dog.
This method was demonstrated beyond any doubt by Keller Breland (1915–1965) and Marian Kruse (1920 – 2001), who have been students of psychologist B.F. Skinner (1904 – 1990) and later a couple in life. B.F. Skinner believed that human free will is an illusion and that any human action is the result of the consequences of the same action. If the consequences are bad, there is a high chance that the action will not be repeated; however if the consequences are good, the actions that led to it will become more possible.
Earlier animal trainers had historically relied primarily on punishment when teaching animals. Keller and Marian Breland instead followed Skinner’s emphasis on the use of positive reinforcement to train animals, using rewards for desired behavior. Related to documents of the time of the 1940s, the couple trained almost 140 animal species including dogs, pigs, rats, cats, ravens, dolphins and wales by using the method of clicker and reward.
How does positive training look like in practice?
Consider the following example: We have a dog who has been rewarded each time his butt is resting on the floor. Automatically the dog captures the sequence and tries again to gain the reward. So when an animal perceives only good feelings in demand and action, it automatically facilitates the training. The animal understands more to interact and starts enjoy learning!
Simply said, “When reward becomes a behavior, there are more chances that the positive response will occur again”.
The responsibility that we train a dog in the right way is definitely ours, and we must be firm and clear towards the dog.
When do you use the positive training?
A very important part of positive training is that it can be applied to dogs from a very young age. Positive reinforcement has a positive impact on your daily life with your pet. Common things for us, like the sounds of the city, a car ride, a visit to the Mall, can be combined to some good experience for the puppy if associated with treats.
The puppy senses the process like this:
‘bus noise’ + ‘treat’ = good, so ‘bus noise’ = good.
Positive training helps to recover difficult pets.
With positive education we can easier reach out to sensitive and shy animals, simply because by a “click” you encourage their good behavior. During practice, it is necessary that you provide patience.
I have personally trained dozens of fearful and antisocial dogs, simply “breaking” their negative story in their mind, by approaching and rewarding them. So they slowly could let go of fear and mistrust and became more relaxed and extroverted. They started to play and feeling more comfortable in society.
What is the outcome of positive training?
In conclusion, it is a method that if we use it correctly, it creates animals with a calm nature, confidence, curiosity and willingness to learn. It takes practice to know how to use the clicker in a right way, because positive reinforcement does not mean that at every moment you will feed your dog.
To get more information about Borompokas Vasilis, who is a professional trainer, please visit
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