“Purely Positive Training”

“Purely positive” training. Who has heard that term?

Now I am probably going to break that big lie to you, but there is no such thing as “purely positive” dog training. Every effective trainer uses some form of negative reinforcement in their training, but they most likely do not even realize it.

Take for one example, the Recall. Your dog is running around, having a good ol’ time, When time comes for you to go, you call your dog, but he ignores you and refuses to come. So we do what many of us have learned to do, effectively, and that is to ignore the dog, and start walking away.
Well, folks, that IS a form of negative reinforcement! The dog is not getting what he wants (your attention), and is getting no enjoyment out of your actions. Therefore, you ARE using Negative Reinforcement.

This term “purely positive” training started about 20 years or so ago, as a marketing gimmick. The old harsh style of dog training (the one I was trained in), was coming to an end, and the newer, less harsh methods were taking hold. Notice I said, “less harsh.” We still use, and will continue to use negative reinforcement, as you cannot effectively train a dog without it.  But we do not use those harsh methods any longer.  We have learned to adapt and overcome.

It’s simply a matter of balance.