Skinner’s Quadrants Series – Part IV

My dog prefers treats to petting and toys.

Be sure to read about the first three parts here: Part I, Part II, and Part III.

Positive Reinforcement is the last and my favorite of all four quadrants.

  1. Positive – adding something
  2. Reinforcement – increasing the occurrence of that behavior in the future

In dog training, it is about adding something the dog thinks is good to continue the behavior in the future. This is usually praise, petting, treats, or toys. You are looking to keep the behavior going in the future by adding something good when you use positive reinforcement.

It’s pretty simple, if you do something that gets you what you want, why wouldn’t you keep doing it?! Dogs think the same way – if it works, why stop?! So it is up to you (the trainer or dog owner) to capture this and use it to your advantage. It is also up to you to stop any reinforcement of unwanted behavior – many times ignoring the dog it the best way to go since many dogs just crave attention. (Dogs don’t care if you are yelling at them, if you are paying them attention, then they are getting what they want – so why stop?!)

My dog prefers treats to petting and toys.

Key Tip: When you add something “good” to continue the behavior in the future, make sure the dog considers it “good”. In the end, it doesn’t matter if you think the dog will like it, the final decision is up to the dog. Whether or not a dog finds a certain thing rewarding depends on the dog. For example, some dogs enjoy being pet, others would rather receive a treat, and some would prefer a toy to be thrown as their reward. It is up to you to know what your dog loves best!