Rewards vs Punishments Webinar


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Webinar Notes

Here are some notes from the full length webinar so you can see the topics we cover. 


The best way to define a reward or a punishment is by the effect it has on the subject’s behavior.

A reward reinforces the immediately preceding behavior so it occurs more frequently in the future.

A punishment inhibits the immediately preceding behavior so it occurs less frequently in the future. A real punishment will become less necessary over time as the behavior becomes less frequent.


5’ Food is a very convenient and easy to use reward that can be very effective, even for novice dog trainers.

Skilled dog trainers can use their voice and their body as very effective lures and rewards.

Toys can be useful as well.

The best rewards are activities that your dog enjoys. 

Enjoyable activities that last a long time can be interrupted and the resumption of the activity can be used a reward over and over again.


17’ Rewards are quicker, easier, and more effective at training dogs. This can be easily proved by testing the two techniques against each other. Testing is essential if you want to know what training techniques are most effective. 


24’ It used to be that a lot of people participated in obedience trials, which provided a very test of behavior. That has become less common but if you want to test your own dog’s behavior you can do so, and you can determine their Response Reliability % to get a measurement of how well your dog performs a specific skill. No dog is 100% reliable.


33’ It’s much quicker to teach them the handful of things you want your dog to do, instead of trying to teach them to not do the countless things you don’t want them to do.


37’ The best form of punishment is to use reward training to teach your dog what you want them to do instead.

If your dog is jumping up at the front door, you can reward train your dog to instead Sit on their bed when people come to the front door. In order to make this work you’ll have to teach the dog the skill when they are not excited, and then, practice it in an exciting situation over and over, until the situation becomes less exciting, so your dog can successfully perform the task.


42’ If your dog is misbehaving because they are scared or anxious, you might need to comfort them, which runs the risk of reinforcing their behavior. And so, if you comfort your dog when they are reacting due to anxiety, then it is essential that you praise your dog even more enthusiastically when they stop reacting, when they are behaving the way you want them to. Then you can do classical conditioning and operant conditioning at the same time.

You can comfort your dog when they are scared, but still reward and reinforce the behavior that you actually want.


45’ Rewards don’t have to come in one-size-fits-all

Rewards don’t have to be consistent or predictable. In fact, they’re better when they are unpredictable. Think about a slot machine vs a vending machine.


50’ Punishments have to be consistent to be effective, otherwise the dog will learn when they can misbehave without being punished. 


55’ When rewards are unpredictable it makes it easier to phase them out, and get your dog to behave well even without the presence of rewards.


1:00 Punishments are so hard to use effectively, and you have to be totally consistent. Rewards are so easy to use effectively, in part because inconsistency makes them even more effective, and people are very inconsistent.


1:05 We’re working on a 3-Day Dog Behavior Makeover course that includes a pre-test and post-test to encourage dog owners to test their dog’s behavior and training, so that they can see for themselves what the most effective training methods are.


1:07 When you use food in training it takes one of your dog’s favorite activities and stretches the enjoyment out over a much longer period of time.

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Reward vs Punishment Memes

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Reward vs Punishment


A punishment inhibits undesirable behavior


Catch your dog doing something right


The Greatest Human Foible


Oh no! They're back!


A Walk is the Greatest JOY


Level Up Your Dog Training


Don't Be a Vending Machine


Be a Slot Machine

Be a Carnival Game


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