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Why positive only training?

23173 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?
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My question is this: why use only the positive in absence of the negative?
Perhaps think of it like a bank account, with positives being the deposits and negatives being the withdrawls. Some people strive to see their account balance go up up up, exclusively.

A poor person has likely experienced the deterimental nature of excessive withdrawls. A wealthy person has done their best to avoid them entirely.

My question is this: would you rather be poor or wealthy, figuratively speaking?

The cultural shift away from a reliance upon negatives towards a 'purer', more positive-style of training has allowed many individual dogs and some non-obedience breeds to become highly competitive in dogsports, who I suspect would not have been so competitive otherwise, under the old regime.
"why not? It works."

Is there ANY behaviour that cannot be trained by positive methods? any behaviour that MUST be taught using aversives?

If the answer is "no" (and IMO it's a resounding no), ... well, then ....
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