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Dog Training Methods: The Basics

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What are the different dog training methods?

No matter what philosophy you follow for training your dog, all methods fall under four basic training tools. Methods that decrease unwanted behaviors are extinction and punishment and methods that increase wanted behavior; positive and negative reinforcement. For the purpose of this website, I will be mainly focusing on positive reinforcement and extinction techniques.


Where did reinforcement theory come from?

The reinforcement theory was formulated by behaviorist B.F. Skinner and it is one of the oldest theories of motivation. Reinforcement theory is commonly known as Behaviorisms or Operant Conditioning.

What is the reinforcement theory?
The theory states that “an individual’s behavior is a function of its consequences” (Management Study Guide, 2013). Basically, it is a theory of motivation. Our behavior is influenced by a string of consequences. Those consequences can be positive or negative.

What is positive reinforcement?

Positive reinforcement happens when you present a desirable reinforcer as a consequence to a behavior. This causes the behavior to increase. The rule of thumb is if you are providing reinforcement, even if it is not conscious, your dog will repeat the behavior. Reinforcement can be anything, attention, treats or toys. It is whatever motivates your dog.

What is extinction training?

Extinction is the removal of a desired event or reward as a consequence to a behavior. This causes that behavior to decrease. If you do not want your dog to repeat a behavior, do not give it any reinforcement. Even talking to your dog can be seen as receiving attention and the dog will repeat the behavior.