Punishment is generally considered the human application of naturally occurring forces that influence behavior. That’s about all you can say about the subject before hitting a fork in the road: the traditional, colloquial use of the term and the attempts by science to describe the phenomenon. Both roads, guided by good intentions, lead to perdition.
(Note: Part 1 is here… http://clickandtreat.com/wordpress/?p=388)
To refresh your memory about the topic, I have presented a case for the idea that punishment is innate in humans and a key survival behavior of both individuals and groups. For millions of years this fact has not been questioned.
Now that we’ve laid out the foundation for the topic it’s time to talk about specifics. First and foremost I have to clear up a widely held fantasy. Training is not the only situation where your dog might experience some fear inspiring or painful events. People who predict dire consequences from using aversive control in training seem ignorant of this fact. Scary and often painful events are part of life. Dogs are built to deal with it. Some of those events change a dog’s behavior and sometimes – like a vet performing a terrifying and/or painful procedure – they simply have to bite the bullet.
Whether you like it or not, the deal-breakers for most dog owners revolve around ending an unacceptable behavior. If you can stop it, the owner will be more likely to deal with lesser, nuisance behaviors and regain their desire to keep the dog. EG: The mother who worked extra hours to buy new shoes for her kid isn’t going to laugh off the dog ripping them to shreds. If next week it’s a huge hole in the couch and then the dog knocks over a neighbor-kid it’s likely to kill her patience. If the dog goes to a shelter there is an 80% chance it will kill the dog, too. Modern dog people and behavior experts are cold to this. Continue reading
The ancient Romans had a saying that behavioral scientists and modern dog trainers don’t seem to get. Abusus non tollit usum – the abuse of a tool is not an argument against its proper use. To truly compare reinforcement and punishment means you examine both tools used correctly. That is rarely done. Instead, a biased and illogical perspective is presented that confuses people and blocks treatment known to be effective while fostering treatment known to cause problems. Meaning most “all positive” behaviorists talk out of both sides of their mouths. Here’s how that happens…