Positive training methods

Training and handling with Positive Reinforcement

NOT Positive Punishment

Positive Reinforcement: This is when ‘something’ (voice, physical praise or treat) is added during or immediately after a behaviour, that serves to increase the occurrence of that behaviour.  For example – asking the dog to sit, then rewarding (treat) will increase the likelihood of the dog sitting again.


Positive Punishment:This is when an aversive is added during or immediately after the behaviour, to reduce the occurrence of that behaviour. For example – calling your dog, and then shouting at him for taking his time, you are effectively punishing him for coming when called.

Pathfinder Dogs do not use positive punishment for learning tasks, applying behaviour modifications and managing any work related problems.
This is due to the potential adverse effects that may inhibit any learning, cause emotional distress, unpleasant experiences and therefore rise to further problems.

Punishment by use of aversives, force and coercion are not in our repertoire, as are use of equipment such as choke chains, pinch/prongs and electric shock collars.

Using force is just ethically wrong and causes mistrust and even fear of the handler.

Pathfinder Dogs focus on ‘showing’ the dog, positively reinforcing desired behaviours and avoiding rewarding undesirable behaviours. We nurture the dog’s emotional state; this approach promotes a better understanding of a dog’s behaviour, respects them as an emotional being and builds healthy, trustful relationships.

We do not suppress inappropriate behaviours but change them. This overall approach alleviates any confusion, frustration and anxiety, as the dog understands what we do want rather than being ‘punished’ for what we don’t want.

We apply a kind, more thoughtful approach to problem solving. For example – a dog jumps up to greet people in order to get their attention; we do not provide that atten­tion by talking, shouting or pushing them off. We would stand still and quiet, or turn our back and ask for an alternative behaviour i.e. sit, and reward that. This way the dog is thinking and learning a better way to behave to get that attention, all done in a force free way.

Pathfinder Dogs want their dogs to enjoy their training, learning through fun and kindness from puppy hood, through  advanced training and finally doing their job in partnership with our clients.