The 4 Quadrants of Dog Training: Are You Doing All Four?

The 4 Quadrants of Dog Training: Are You Doing All Four?

There are four ‘quadrants’ when it comes to dog training; positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, positive punishment and negative punishment.

To summarise quickly…

Positive reinforcement is when you add something to the dogs environment that he likes for example if he sits he gets a piece of cheese. This increases the chances of the behaviour happening again.

Negative reinforcement is when you remove something the dog doesn’t like from the environment; for example stopping an electric shock when the dog eventually sits down. The dog learns that by sitting he avoids the shock thus increasing the chances of the behaviour happening again. (This is just an example and not something I actually use).

Positive punishment is when you add something into the dogs environment that he does not like with the hope of decreasing the behaviour in the future. An example of this could be hitting or shouting at a dog that starts to growl.

Lastly negative punishment which is removing something from the dogs environment that he likes. For example when a dog jumps up at their owner and so the owner turns around and ignores the dog. The dog has lost attention and so the behaviour is less likely to happen again.

The idea is that if a dog is rewarded for a particular behaviour then it is more likely to happen again in the future, if a dog is punished or there is no reward for the behaviour then the behaviour is less likely to happen again.

Many people understand this concept and will put it into practice at home without thinking usually when teaching their dog new tricks or behaviours like loose lead walking.

(For Logan, tennis balls make a great reward for good behaviours)

However I find that many people forget to reward their dogs for good behaviour throughout the day. We are very quick to notice when our dogs have done something wrong “Fido jumped up and ate all the food off the kitchen side again” or “Rex dragged me constantly on our walk this morning.” But what if our dogs do something we like? Do we notice and reward them? Or do we not notice because it is something that we just expect them to do?

A great example is when our dogs our doing nothing; you’ve come home from your walk and you want to sit and watch television and your dog has settled nicely at your feet. This behaviour goes unrewarded, whereas you could have rewarded it with a piece of food, praise, a toy and this way your dog is more likely to settle next time. Instead of becoming frustrated and annoyed whenever you come home from a walk and your dog is not settling reward the behaviours you want to see more of.

(Reward your dog for lying down in his bed, or settling quickly. Don’t ignore the good behaviours)

A great exercise to try is to take a handful of dog treats first thing in the morning either your regular dog biscuits or some small cubes of cheese etc and place them somewhere easy to hand. The aim is to use these treats to reward random behaviours throughout the day that you like; sitting calmly in bed, leaving the room instead of begging, settling quickly, for not barking at the door, anything you like and would like to see more off!!

Instead of shouting and punishing a dog for behaviours you don’t like focus on the ones that you do like.

Reward behaviours that you like throughout the day and your dog is going to be more likely to offer these behaviours again and again.

Jayde Davey M.ISAP CTDI

Jayde Davey M.ISAP CTDI – I am an aspiring dog trainer, supporting positive reinforcement methods. I currently am studying an Advanced Diploma in Canine Behaviour Management and have just passed my test to become a Certified Trick Dog Instructor. I have my own blogsite with connected social media and I also run a Facebook Dog Trick group where I help people to teach their dog lots of fun tricks. I am a member of ISAP or the International Society for Animal Professionals and also have a diploma in small animal care. I own a deaf Dalmatian called Logan who I do most of my training with; he knows lots of tricks like take my socks off, fetch my a tissue and wipe your feet but I also regularly work with a miniature poodle, a cocker spaniel, a jack Russell and a border collie. I one day hope to become a professional dog trainer.

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