Wednesday, January 20, 2010
How can positive reinforcement be so bad?
Tag Teach is a wonderful way to positively train people! I'm part of a trainer's forum that positively reinforces posts every week. For example, one week the moderator will post "This week's TAG point [the action that will get you positive reinforcement known as a TAG] is 'trim your posts when replying to the forum'". At the end of the week, every one who posted to the forum and remembered to trim their posts will be recognized by the forum moderator. Personally, I love being recognized. I like knowing I've done something right and someone noticed. Lately, however, I've received TAGs for things I've never done. I haven't posted to the forum in two weeks but somehow I've managed to make it on to the weekly listing of people that did something right. Sure, I feel good that my name is on the list. But I've literally spent the last couple days perplexed. Did the moderator make a mistake by posting my name...twice?? Did my posts not go through properly/on time?? Is there someone else by the same name? If that's the case, have we both been improperly recognized this whole time?
The point is this: when you think you are doing something good by giving away "freebies" you could very well be confusing your dog just as my "freebies" confused me. I still don't know what posts were correct. I can't repeat the behavior - even though I know what the moderator asked for, I have no idea what I actuallydid. When training your dog, remember to be consistent. Even if you think they're sad because you think they deserved that treat/toy/praise. If they didn't perform the behavior you're looking for, then they don't get reinforcement. This isn't cruel - it's helpful for the learning process!
Happy Clicking Everyone!