Monday, 21 May 2012

Why Reward Based Training Really Works!

Why is there a picture of a Nectar Rewards card on this post?  Well, you may be thinking there is a relevance to the word 'Reward' appearing here when we are talking about dog training and behaviour. You would be right in thinking that, it is the same psychology at work here.
Let me tell you, that I regularly seek out a BP Garage to buy my petrol. Why? because I know that I will be rewarded with Nectar points every time I fill up at a BP Garage.  Even more exciting.. sometimes they run special promotions whereby you might even win a million nectar points if you are really lucky! Jackpot!  I go voluntarily, no one threatens me if I go to a Texaco garage or a Shell garage.  I willingly and happily go to a BP Garage to fill my car up with petrol.  I am rewarded for doing so.
So why is there now a picture of a motorway speed enforcement sign here?  Well, why do I observe the speed limit? Because there is a threat of punishment if I do not.  The evil CCTV camera sign is reminding me that if I do not obey the 40mph speed limit I will be punished with a speeding ticket, points on my driving licence and an expensive fine to pay as well.  How do I feel while I am under this threat? Do I obey? yes I do obey the command to drive at 40mph but I don't feel good about it. What happens when the speed restriction has finished?  I go back up to 70mph (OK sometimes it is a bit faster I admit) and I feel relief when these threats of punishment have ended. Phew!

Are you beginning to see the relevance here with how dogs are trained?  Using reward based methods of training makes your dog feel good when you ask him to do something. He knows a reward is coming when he does it right, and he does it willingly. A whole lot of brain chemicals are produced which makes him feel grrrreat! He feels good, he anticipates a pleasurable experience and he wants to obey your every word! (no really!).  Every so often there might even be an extra special 'Jackpot' reward coming to me but you never know when that might be.

So if I threaten or punish my dog with a painful choke collar, frighten him with loud noises, spray cans, vibrating collars, shout at him threaten him... well yes he is going to obey your commands because he is anticipating punishment if he doesn't. Brain chemicals are produced which make him feel anxious and fearful. When the threats and punishment are not present, he will revert back to his old behaviour, feeling great relief that the threat of punishment is over. 

So if you are looking for a behaviourist or trainer, look for someone who belongs to an accredited body of trained professionals who subscribe to a kind, fair and effective code of conduct.  Reward based training methods are the only way to go. They are not airey-fairy, namby-pamby methods. They Work!

1 comment:

  1. Bow Wow! I agree with all of the above....bring the treats, show me the love and I will do whatever you ask!