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We have learned that in order to train a dog we must use positive reinforcement:
a dog's behavior leads to a positive consequence = the dog repeats the behavior.

The association between food and behavior increases the likelihood that the dog will want to repeat that behavior.
This process is called positive reinforcement. Is it true? Is it real?

In this process, timing is considered a key element. The behavior-reinforcement association, however, is not based on contiguity (time), but on contingency (the animal's ability to understand which behavior has produced a positive consequence)
If we are teaching a dog to touch a cone with the nose, at some point we will click the dog attention to the target, rather than a behavior...

hot to use a target in dog training

But the most interesting aspect about positive reinforcement, is that it doesn't work as intended.

In the real world, no matter how much we have reinforced a behavior and associated it with a cue, the dog can always choose to do something else.
We fail, not because we're not good trainers, just because the world is not a Skinner's box.

Text Alexa Capra 20 july 2021

Photo Alexa Capra and Daniele Robotti

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