The Importance of Reinforcers – Hudson Valley Dog Training Experts

Hudson Valley Dog Training

All dog behaviors, desired and undesired by you, are results of reinforcement. Let me say that again…. all dog behaviors, desired and undesired by you, are results of reinforcement. The reinforcers are usually the people in the dog’s life, but sometimes it can be environmental. Reinforcement involving people is always one thing: attention. That attention could be good (petting) or even negative (scolding). It can even be as little as eye contact. For instance, if your dog seeks your attention by jumping on you and you pet them (even once!) you have reinforced that behavior. The dog thinks: ‘ok, so jumping up gets me attention… got it’. Even if you scold or push your dog off you are reinforcing that behavior by giving it attention. Looking at it this way it’s actually really unfair to sometimes pet your dog for jumping up and sometimes scold them. That’s so confusing! And yet, we all make mistakes like this.

Outside Reinforcers

There are other types of reinforcement that do not include you directly. For instance, leaving food unattended where a dog can get it is intrinsically reinforcing. Rather than attention from you creating the positive feedback, it’s the food reward that reinforces this behavior. Set your dog up for success not failure! Keep those counters clean or keep your dog out of the kitchen! 

Final Thoughts

So, I’d like you to start thinking about the behaviors your dog has that you don’t like. Is it jumping up? Is it pulling on the leash? Is it barking? Whatever it is, begin to think about the part you (and your family) play in this behavior. I am not implying you are a bad dog owner. This is something we all do with our pets- including me! But when you are more aware of your role in their behavior it gets much easier to extinguish the unwanted behaviors and encourage the ones you love!

Westchester & Hudson Valley Dog Training

Understanding the principles of reinforcement is essential in shaping your dog’s behavior effectively and humanely. Recognizing that both positive and negative attention can reinforce behaviors highlights the importance of consistency and awareness in training. By setting your dog up for success and avoiding inadvertent reinforcement, you can cultivate desired behaviors more reliably. Explore our comprehensive Westchester & Hudson Valley dog training programs on our website by clicking the button below. Learn more today and take the first step towards a happier, better-behaved companion.

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