Bad Language and Modern Dog Training:

Using language precisely is not a hallmark of modern training and behavior. Consider that the word “positive” is used to mean beneficial and “negative” is used to mean harmful, abusive and cruel. This is done both when speaking to the general public (something doctors never do) and within the profession, where a higher standard of language should be upheld. For instance, the word punishment is regularly used as a pejorative that implies abuse, even though the scientific definition does not imply anything other than something that causes behavior to decline or stop. EG: “Punishment-based-trainer” is intended as an insult, not a neutral statement about a training philosophy. It’s not accurate, either. A leash and collar is a device that applies positive punishment and negative reinforcement – both considered “negatives” by all-positive trainers. Obviously, if you use a leash, you are by definition a punishment-based trainer. Additionally, if you use a leash to stop a dog from lunging, you are using “positive” punishment. We all know that this would be called “negative” by the same people who claim to be all-positive. The language  (and the concepts behind the words) are used almost exclusively in a rhetorical manner to promote an ideology that is incompatible with a full reading of the scientific literature. Meaning it is not just imprecise, it is incorrect. Continue reading