Positively excellent dog training. We continued today, Saturday 27th February 2016, looking at reinforcement. Reinforcement is such a huge topic that we have split it into 2 workshops, the next one being in the 19th March. Even then, 4 hours of learning can be only an introduction to the topic, which, as positive reinforcment trainers, sits at the very heart of what we do.
After introductions, Clare presented a short input on reinforcement, mainly to get the students thinking about what reinforcement is. What is reinforcement and how does it differ from rewards and treats? Is there a difference? These are not semantics, if we don’t know the difference, how can we expect to apply it to our dogs?
We divided the reinforcement into three categories; food reinforcers, toy/play reinforcers and life reinforcers.As modern dog trainers, we looked at positve reinforcement, rather than negative reinforcement.
Each of the categories was divided further to identify the pros and cons of each of them, when they could be used, and what behaviours they could be used to reinforce.
Toy reinforcers pictured above. Divided into chase, retrieve and tug toys. Remember, it’s what the dog gets to do with the toy which is reinforcing rather than the toy itself!
After discussion on the merits and disadvantages of each, the groups the devised training plans to test the value of various reinforcers.
Building on the work done in the last workshop, ethical considerations were taken into account for both the handler and the dog, with welfare of the dog being at foremost in our minds. The attendees showed real thoughfulness in their design.
Homework assignments were given with ongoing support between workshops. If you are interested in attending these, or are interested in hosting us to run these workshops in your area, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Part 2 of the reinforcment workshop is on the 19th March 2016 in East Kilbride.