How dogs learn? – part 2
As you could read in the previous blog post there are four consequences in operant conditioning:
1. Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is to add an appetitive stimulus (something your dog loves) immediately following a behaviour, resulting in the behaviour becoming more likely to recur. For example, giving the dog a biscuit each time he sits before you open the door makes the behaviour of sitting more likely to happen.
Positive reinforcement is the only one of the four quadrants of operant learning which does not contain an aversive element!
2. Positive Punishment
Positive punishment is to add an aversive stimulus immediately following behaviour, resulting in the behaviour becoming less likely to recur. For example, giving the dog an electric shock each time he jumps on people makes the behaviour less likely to happen.
Positive punishment ruins relationship with your siberian, increases stress and decreases dog welfare. Besides that it does not tell the dog what to do, what would have been the desired behaviour.
Punishment can’t build behaviour, it can only suppress it!
3. Negative Reinforcement
Negative reinforcement is to remove an aversive stimulus immediately following behaviour, resulting in the behaviour becoming more likely to recur. For example, removing choke-collar pressure when the dog moves closer to the owner during walks makes the behaviour of moving closer more likely to recur. In regards to negative reinforcement I have the same thoughts as with positive punishment.
“Violence begins where knowledge ends” – Abraham Lincoln
4. Negative Punishment
Negative punishment is when you remove an appetitive stimulus immediately following a behaviour, with this you decrease the likehood that behaviour will occur again.
For example, if your dog barks for attention ignoring him until he’s quiet will decrease the likelihood that he will continue vocalising to get your attention.
In most of the situations, classical conditioning will override operant conditioning. In over-excitement, fear, stress and similar state of minds the dog will be unable to think therefore he is unable to listen to you. In such case, he has no control over how he is reacting and becomes unable to respond to cues you previously taught. Typically, this is when you hear from dog owners a sentence like „But he can do it at home”. Your siberian may be able to respond at home, however in an over-excited situation he won’t. Before you intend to teach anything to your dog, first you have to reduce or even eliminate these circumstances.