Operant conditioning uses both reinforcement and punishment. When you master this very effective psychology, you can teach a dog (or human family member) to reliably perform specific tasks. Stay with us on this one. It sounds much more complicated than it is!

The Basics

Positive Reinforcement (+R)

Positive reinforcement means the addition of something, like a treat. If a dog gets a treat when he sits, he’ll be more likely to sit.

Negative Reinforcement (-R)

In this case, the dog’s behavior causes something uncomfortable to go away. For instance, when a trainer wants a dog that is lying down to sit up, the trainer will pull the dog’s leash to an upward position, tightening the collar and creating minor discomfort. When the dog sits, the trainer slacks the leash, and the discomfort goes away.

Positive Punishment (+P)

Again, here the word positive means the addition of something; in this case, it’s the addition of a consequence. For instance, if a dog jumps on the owner and the owner pushes the dog away with an unpleasant sensation like a knee push to the dog’s chest, the dog will associate the discomfort with the action of jumping up, and be less likely to do so in the future.

Negative Punishment (-P)

As with negative reinforcement, the word negative means the removal of something. In the case of punishment, it’s the removal of a good thing. If a dog jumps on the owner and the owner steps back, removing himself and his attention, the dog will associate the loss of his owner’s attention with that particular action, and he’ll be less likely to repeat it in the future.

A Few More Behavioral Terms

  • Neutral operants: responses from the environment that neither increase nor decrease the probability of a behavior being repeated.

  • Reinforcers: Responses from the environment that increase the probability of a behavior being repeated. Reinforcers can be either positive or negative.

  • Punishers: Responses from the environment that decrease the likelihood of a behavior being repeated. Punishment weakens behavior.

Examples

  • It’s important to keep in mind that positive and negative punishments may be different for different dogs. Your dog has different likes and dislikes, just like you do. For example, if your dog doesn’t like having his head touched, a pat on the head may be negative reinforcement, rather than positive reinforcement. We’ll work with you to help determine the most effective strategies for your particular dog.
  • What about a dog that begs for food at the dinner table by barking? To the dog, barking has just offered food. Therefore he will repeat the same trick another day to earn food from the dinner table. To the owner, barking particularly at the dinner table is annoying, and he hates that. However, he achieves silence by giving the dog food and may do this often to prevent barking at the table. The two situations, stopping barking (negative) and giving the dog food to stop barking (reinforcement) presents two sides of the same coin.
  • People use the term positive to imply that they employ rewards as the key dog training method. Additionally, they use negative to refer to the obedience method based on corrections. However, the same people will use both negative and positive at a given time in the training session. Positive implies giving. For instance, giving the dog a treat. On the other hand, negative relates to taking away. For example, withdrawing attention from the dog or taking away pressure on the leash. Therefore, positive can either be good or bad depending on what the person gives his/her dog.

in summary

Operant Conditioning helps your dog understand that actions have consequences. Your pet will learn to moderate their behavior based on what happens after its actions. If their behavior comes with a perceived reward, it’ll repeat it. If there is no reward, or if they don’t enjoy the consequence, they’re less likely to repeat the behavior.

#positivereinforcement

🇬🇧 I did an experiment with Næla on a steep, slippery slope in our paddock. It was inspired by #ProjectProprius's @pantherflows chapters on Movement Optimization. By using the unusual environment  Næla's movement system should get some new impulses to enable her to re-organize her body and movements. - Næla is generally quite stiff and tense, she's a fivegaiter, and very pacey. So, in the beginning of this session of about 20 minutes she was quite blocked. From time to time a pushed her, sometimes in combination with a stretch to the target, to get her out of balance and to make her sort herself. You can see in the videos, how she's getting more flexible and more relaxed, but also how she's digesting what's happening. I gave her some breaks in between, to think about it.
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🇩🇪 Ich hab mit Næla ein Experiment gemacht, und zwar auf einem ziemlich steilen, ziemlich rutschigen Hang bei uns im Paddock. Inspi3wurde das durch die Kapitel über Bewegungsoptimierung im Project Proprius. In dem ungewöhnlichen Gelände soll Nælas Bewegungssysten stimuliert werden und sich quasi selbst neu organisieren, aus gewohnten Bewegungsmustern rauskommen. - Næla ist generell sehr steif und festgehalten, sie ist eine Fünfgängerin, sehr passig. Am Anfang der ca. 20-minütigen Session war sie sehr blockiert. Immer mal wieder schubse ich sie, auch in Verbindung mit Stretches zum Target, um sie aus der Balance zu bringen, damit sie sich selbst sortieren muss. Man sieht ganz schön, wie sie immer flexibler und lockerer wird, aber auch, wie sie das verdauen muss. Ich hab ihr dafür auch immer wieder Zeit gegeben.
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#horses #horsesofinstagram #horse #hest #hestar #horsesoficeland #icelandichorse #icelandichorses #isländer #islandpferd #instahorse #Pferde #Intrinzen #intrinzenstudents #positivereinforcement #trainingnaela #movementoptimization #pantherwalk
🇬🇧 I did an experiment with Næla on a steep, slippery slope in our paddock. It was inspired by #ProjectProprius's @pantherflows chapters on Movement Optimization. By using the unusual environment Næla's movement system should get some new impulses to enable her to re-organize her body and movements. - Næla is generally quite stiff and tense, she's a fivegaiter, and very pacey. So, in the beginning of this session of about 20 minutes she was quite blocked. From time to time a pushed her, sometimes in combination with a stretch to the target, to get her out of balance and to make her sort herself. You can see in the videos, how she's getting more flexible and more relaxed, but also how she's digesting what's happening. I gave her some breaks in between, to think about it. ..... 🇩🇪 Ich hab mit Næla ein Experiment gemacht, und zwar auf einem ziemlich steilen, ziemlich rutschigen Hang bei uns im Paddock. Inspi3wurde das durch die Kapitel über Bewegungsoptimierung im Project Proprius. In dem ungewöhnlichen Gelände soll Nælas Bewegungssysten stimuliert werden und sich quasi selbst neu organisieren, aus gewohnten Bewegungsmustern rauskommen. - Næla ist generell sehr steif und festgehalten, sie ist eine Fünfgängerin, sehr passig. Am Anfang der ca. 20-minütigen Session war sie sehr blockiert. Immer mal wieder schubse ich sie, auch in Verbindung mit Stretches zum Target, um sie aus der Balance zu bringen, damit sie sich selbst sortieren muss. Man sieht ganz schön, wie sie immer flexibler und lockerer wird, aber auch, wie sie das verdauen muss. Ich hab ihr dafür auch immer wieder Zeit gegeben. ..... #horses #horsesofinstagram #horse #hest #hestar #horsesoficeland #icelandichorse #icelandichorses #isländer #islandpferd #instahorse #Pferde #Intrinzen #intrinzenstudents #positivereinforcement #trainingnaela #movementoptimization #pantherwalk
Check out #Belle in session no. 3! She just finished her Intro package and is ready to sign up for more 📝
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Despite having a tough week and a two-week break between sessions, it didn’t take long before Belle was feeling at ease again around me: responding to commands and taking #treats 🍖 .
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She did some of the craziest, cutest little woofles and howls that I know I’ll be thinking about for days, trying to #decipher 🤔 .
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She was a little too nervous to play with the #teasestick while I was there, but I walked Belle’s #pawrents through my fave #impulsecontrol game so we can start working on her #preydrive 🐿 .
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Belle appears to have some #herding instincts that could land her in some hot water. We discussed a prevention plan when guests are dropping by and started on positive #muzzletraining as well because being prepared works waaaaay better than the “wait and see” strategy 🎯 .
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Bringing Belle’s #anxiety down is still no. 1 on our list to help her through the learning process, so they’ll be discussing meds and supplements with their vet on an upcoming visit. Belle’s responding to training, so I don’t think we’re at the “must medicate” stage yet, but it doesn’t hurt to ask a medical professional 👩‍⚕️ .
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In any event, we’ve got tons of #games, tools and learning planned for Belle to build #confidence, #trust and healthier coping responses 👍 .
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I haven’t lost an ounce of faith that she’s capable of learning everything listed above and more. Our most recent session just reinforced that belief, and I’m thankful her pawrents are trusting me with the task of teaching her (and them)! 🙏 .
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Stay tuned to this one because we should be seeing more of Belle! 🐶 .
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Pics reflect: snuggles with dad (aka “I’m done now, trainer laydee can leave”), looking #cute next to her place mat, and a #closeup taking #tastythings from me 😉 .
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#dogtrainer #dogtraining #forcefreetraining #positivereinforcement #cuteandcomplicatedclub #gonzodognyc
Check out #Belle in session no. 3! She just finished her Intro package and is ready to sign up for more 📝 . . Despite having a tough week and a two-week break between sessions, it didn’t take long before Belle was feeling at ease again around me: responding to commands and taking #treats 🍖 . . She did some of the craziest, cutest little woofles and howls that I know I’ll be thinking about for days, trying to #decipher 🤔 . . She was a little too nervous to play with the #teasestick while I was there, but I walked Belle’s #pawrents through my fave #impulsecontrol game so we can start working on her #preydrive 🐿 . . Belle appears to have some #herding instincts that could land her in some hot water. We discussed a prevention plan when guests are dropping by and started on positive #muzzletraining as well because being prepared works waaaaay better than the “wait and see” strategy 🎯 . . Bringing Belle’s #anxiety down is still no. 1 on our list to help her through the learning process, so they’ll be discussing meds and supplements with their vet on an upcoming visit. Belle’s responding to training, so I don’t think we’re at the “must medicate” stage yet, but it doesn’t hurt to ask a medical professional 👩‍⚕️ . . In any event, we’ve got tons of #games, tools and learning planned for Belle to build #confidence, #trust and healthier coping responses 👍 . . I haven’t lost an ounce of faith that she’s capable of learning everything listed above and more. Our most recent session just reinforced that belief, and I’m thankful her pawrents are trusting me with the task of teaching her (and them)! 🙏 . . Stay tuned to this one because we should be seeing more of Belle! 🐶 . . Pics reflect: snuggles with dad (aka “I’m done now, trainer laydee can leave”), looking #cute next to her place mat, and a #closeup taking #tastythings from me 😉 . . #dogtrainer #dogtraining #forcefreetraining #positivereinforcement #cuteandcomplicatedclub #gonzodognyc
SCIENCE SUNDAY.
SCIENCE SUNDAY. "Over a 7-week period, 16 ponies (aged 6–18 months) were trained using either positive or negative reinforcement techniques to lead in hand, stand to be groomed, traverse an obstacle course and load into a trailer (...). Results showed significant differences between the two training schedules for some measures during the latter stages of the trial and suggested that animals trained under a positive reinforcement schedule were more motivated to participate in the training sessions and exhibited more exploratory or ‘trial and error’ type behaviours in novel situations/environments. In this context, the incorporation of positive reinforcement schedules within a rehabilitation programme may be of benefit to the animal from a welfare perspective." - Linnes, McBride, 2008.⁠ ⁠ In short: Horses are more willing to offer own solutions or try to solve training puzzles when trained with positive reinforcement methods. Not very surprising, if you think about it, but crucial for settings where we have to train things that are more complicated (and where we need the horse to work with us) or where we have to do things with the horse it might not like so much. Therefore, it is always worthy to consider to at least train certain things with positive reinforcement to gain the willingness of the horse. Clicker training is one way to perform R+ (and my recommended one, since it's the most precise method), but you can start easy, and there are plenty of resources to study from!⁠ ⁠ As always, if anyone would like the link to this article, feel free to DM me. #positivereinforcement #positiveverstärkung #concioushorsemanship #sciencebasedtraining #propferd #forcefreetraining #tlcknowhow #fairzumpferd #autonomy #horsesofinstagram #achtsamespferdetraining #achtsamkeit #mindfulhorsetraining #forcefreetraining #bodenarbeit #happypony #doublepostoops