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·The Correction Command or Non Reward Marker (NRM). Sport designer dog lover clothing will make you dog look great. Because the ‘correction commands’ or NRM’s are an essential part of dog obedience training, clarification is important at this point. Corrections, Punishment, Negative Reinforcement are the most misunderstood and misused terms used in dog training schools, in training manuals and books on dog training. Clothingdog toy apparelare also good. Punishment and Correction are emotive terms for most people. There are very important differences between physical punishment, harsh reprimands and the correction command or NRM’s. A properly given correction command or NRM, as I use them, is not averse in the true sense of the word; but in OC terms they come under the definition of Negative Punishment. Any dog that routinely experiences physical punishment or harsh reprimands in training would be justified in fearing training but, if the handler is training correctly, a dog should never fear the correction command or an NRM. The correction command means: ‘Ahhhh, not like that, try again!’ , ‘There are no rewards down that path!’. A correction command, as I use it, can be as benign as a sigh of disappointment like that which occurs from a hushed crowd immediately after a golfer misses a putt – ‘Ahhhhhhh’. It is not abject disapproval ie, positive punishment via a reprimand.

·Note: Withholding a reward as a deterrent is Negative Punishment under the definitions ofOperant Conditioning.

·This subject is covered in more depth in Training Methods and Training Basics, but as a simple example to whet the appetite, consider the example given above with the dog in a Down Stay, the dog has two basic choices, ie he can Stay where he is or break the Stay. If the dog is punished for every mistake he makes, he would have cause to fear and hate this exercise or exhibit learned helplessness; he may choose to fight, flee or freeze, only ‘freeze’ reflex would please the handler (but not the dog). However, if the dog is routinely corrected for wrong choices (the proofing technique is tempting the dog to make the common mistakes in an exercise), he will happily try one choice after another knowing that, if he is wrong there will be no unpleasant consequences (see Notes 4 and 5), he will merely hear the correction command ‘Ahhhhhhhhh!’ meaning: not that way or not like that, try again. If he has any intelligence at all (and most dogs do), the dog will eventually learn what is required and will be rewarded (positively reinforced).

·Timing. Timing is absolutely critical to corrections, if the timing of the correction command is poor (too late), the dog will already have broken the Stay (referring the exercise example above) and the choices available to him will be multiplying by the second; however, if the timing of the correction is good (the instant the dog is thinking about breaking), the number of choices are reduced to two, ie continue to break the Stay or Stay where he is. See more about timing in Training Methods.

·A so called ‘correction command’ which has a threat of physical punishment implied or is given as a harsh reprimand is not a true correction command, it is a complete waste of time in obedience training (Classical Conditioning: Discovery and Investigations, Read Lectures 5 to 14, just change the number in the URL address). I do not consider the positive punishment aversive or harsh corrections given above the threshold of comfort for the dog which are typically given to correct the behavior of aggressive or dominate dogs to be obedience training. This is behavior modification and a quite separate and special discipline in itself.

·NEGATIVE PUNISHMENT. The removal of a pleasant event contingent on a behavior with the goal of decreasing the likelihood of the behavior in the future (1). Example: In dog training, during the early stages of teaching a dog to heel, we praise (used as an event marker and primary reinforcer) and a treat when the desired behavior occurs but as the dog progresses we withhold the praise and treats (the primary reinforcers) if the dog’s heeling does not live up to the dog’s best efforts, ie we negatively punish the unwanted behaviors and poor performance and positively reinforce personal best performances’. Negative Punishment is sometimes referred to in terms of ‘Response Cost’.

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