Can you train a dog/animal using only praise?


Can you train a dog/animal using only praise?

Can you use only praise to train a dog/animal? Well its a bit of complicated question. Many times I hear people say "I only use or need praise to train my dog....I do not need anything else".   Unfortunatley, its not that easy. First one must understand the formula for operant conditioning.  In laymans terms, we will call it "The ABCs of operant condioning. To make it easier for the layman to understand, I will break it up like this.

A = Antecedent. In other words, ways to shape or create a behavior. Here are some examples..






B=Behavior. Either desired or undesired

C=Consequence or reinforcement. Here are examples of that.

Positive Reinforcement

Negative Reinforcement

Positive Punishemnt

Negative Punishment

In the ABC formula, "praise" would fall under the C. It would be a conseqence or reinforcer. It is the last part of the formula. Not the first. The first part of the formula, the A, the behavior must come to fruition. Prasie will not make a behavior manifest itself., because dogs do not undestand human language. Think of it this way. Take a simple behavior like teaching a sit or a down. You must get the dog/animal into the position. Telling it "good boy or girl" will not make the behavior come to fruition. You must use an antecedent. But you can use praise in the C as reinforcment. To make the long story short, yes you can use praise as a reinforcer. But it does not really work as an antecednet.  This is not a blog disussing positive or negative. Rewards or corrections. Because those fall under the C.  See when someome says they only use praise to "train" a dog or "create behavior" (which is traininig), whatever you do afte ther B (behavior) is a reinforcer. And parise falls in that catagory. The word no corrections or rewards all fall in the C category.  So can you prasie a dog or animal into a behavior? Maybe...but highly unlikley. You are welcome.

"Animal Behavior" by Keller Breland (Author), Marian Breland (Author), Robert E Bailey (Introduction)

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