Puppy Forum and Dog Forums banner

Why positive only training?

23156 Views 313 Replies 36 Participants Last post by  Laurelin
I'd like to ask a question about positive training methods that I realize will be a little controversial, just to be clear I am not a dog trainer, just an average owner interested in learning.

My question is this: why use only the positive in absence of the negative?

I understand that a positive association makes the behaviour more likely to occur again but shouldnt the inverse also be true, a negative association makes the behaviour less likely to occur again? Essentially, consequence cuts both ways... we teach our children using this idea, why not dogs? Its true that the human psyche is different from a dogs but dog-dog communication is almost exclusively negative (you will not see a dog give another dog a treat, but you might see one snap at another). Also why is dominance theory so denigrated, dogs aren't wolves but they do have pack hierarchy. Shouldnt we be trying to communicate with dogs in a "language" that is most natural to them?
1 - 11 of 314 Posts
Basically, because most people stink at properly using punishment, and there's a fair chance we'll mess our dogs up if we try.

Same with kids, too, actually.
Not sure what you consider a "verbal correction". Is "hey, get out of the trash!" a verbal correction? Because I think most people would do that :p.

But it's not really fair to punish at a dog if you've never actually taught him what to do (teach "leave it" AFTER you've yelled?).

Dogs as pack animals. . .well, if you've ever lived anywhere with street dogs, you'd see they don't form packs. They may loosely hang out together, but no actual pack is formed.
For most dogs, saying "no" may not be a negative consequence. Unless they're learned that bad things happen when someone says no, what makes it negative? For some dogs, it might even be a positive thing, because any attention is better than no attention.
Not all positive punishment is nasty or insulting.... it can be, in fact, informative!
Isn't the definition of positive punishment "adding something unpleasant" (nasty)? If it's informative, is that really punishment? Is "nice try, that answer was wrong, this is the correct way" punishment?
They think of punishment as a stressful, relationship damaging, obstacle to learning.
I guess I can't think of anything that can be characterized as positive punishment that isn't stressful/nasty. Isn't that the point of punishment?
Eh, I suppose I'm thinking of a layman's concept of punishment. I guarantee most people would not consider a no-reward marker to be punishment.
What most people think, though, does not play a role in the formal definition of punishment.
It kind of does, though. Because, if you say to the average person that punishment plays a role in dog training, almost everybpdy (unless you explain exactly what you mean) is automatically going to think of hitting, jerking on the collar, zapping, pinching, etc. Dictionary definitions change according to popular perception. It's confusing to people when words have secret definitions only the geeks know about.
what i love is that you are a cruel person if you DONT use what some call 'positive only training, positive doesnt work for every dog just like balanced doesnt. its unfair IMHO to pnly limit yourself to one method.
First off, I haven't seen anyone in this thread say that.

But some training methods ARE cruel. What a person is willing to do to a dog says volumes about their character, IMO. Even if it "works".
And for a lot of dogs, "gentle" leash jerks or "touching" would do absolutely nothing, if you wanted to use physical methods effectively you would have to get pretty harsh. Do you escalate? How far? That's what I mean about what someone is willing to do to a dog.
I marvel at how a dog can pull an owner by it's neck... and on it's neck is a choke chain!.... gagging and coughing.... and THE TAIL IS WAGGING as the dog appears to celebrate life.

If I said, "I'm going to do something that will result in a dog that gags and coughs"... you might think that I'm cruel. I do wonder if that dog would agree!
I agree that it's obviously not acting as an effective punisher in that case. But it is still cruel. The dog's trachea could be sustaining permanent damage.
It's adding something undesired.

It does not have to be nasty. Why would I use something nasty on a soft, formerly fearful dog like Wally? If I say "STOP IT", he doesn't desire me to raise my voice, but I don't have to make him scared for his life either.
Do you consider anything you do to be positive punishment?

I'll argue that the average person doesn't know that there IS anything to look up/research. "Punishment? Oh, I know what that means".
1 - 11 of 314 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.