What follows is a lift from a training forum, between myself and a UK, veterinary referred, academically qualified behaviourist.
I have respected her anonymity by referring to her as *****.
During our exchange, ***** chose to disclose that she has worked with 10,000 dogs in 8 years, and has achieved great success using only P- (loss of reward) and R+ (gaining reward). Of these dogs, 1,500 have been aggression cases. Here are her own words …
“I’m a trainer and behaviourist that doesn’t use shock/stim/tone/static/e collars to train out undesirable behaviours. I have trained thousands without the use and don’t just use one method at all. I use positive reinforcement and negative punishment and I work with all sorts of dog, mainly aggressive ones and have never had to use it. If I haven’t had to use it, I would question an e collar is necessary to resolve any problem behaviours? Been doing this 12 years by the way and stopped counting four years ago at 10,000 dogs that I have worked with.”
I challenged both the genuine level of ‘true’ input achievable, given that 10,000 dogs in 8 years, equals 3 different dogs, every single day of close to 3,000 days without break?
The answer was that ***** also ran classes. 16 classes per week with 8 dogs per class.
Personally, I do not consider class instruction to constitute ‘working with’ in the truest sense of the words. It would me more accurate to say ‘advised and observed’.
I then posted the following:
“If you use R+, then by default you also use R-. If you use P-, then in the vast majority of instances (a time out for example), the removal of social contact is equally the inclusion of social isolation – Technically P+ (so long as it is successful) and R-, since the animal will work to remove/avoid the procedure. It can be argued till the end of the time, whether or not this is the case, however no-one can ever answer it with absolute certainty either way, since none can talk with the subject animal. Quadrants simply don’t work in the way that our personal preferences would have them work.”
” Negative reinforcement is the term used when something unpleasant stops happening and is the basis for how punishment works …… It is P- that is applied when rewards are withheld, I do use this. R- is when P+ stops; I don’t use this as I don’t use P+.”
“To [*****], you wrote – ‘It is negative punishment that is the term for withholding a reward. Not negative reinforcement.’
P- would be removing the reward *****, yes, however the animal is responding in accordance with redressing the loss .. to remove a state of need or desire, to achieve satiation – each of which are aversive states. Since R- entails the subject working to escape or avoid an aversive state, response contingent reward is as much about R-, as it is R+!
In his Presidential Address before the Association of Behavior Analysis in 2002, Perone (2002) summarized the situation with respect to the entangled relations between positive and negative reinforcement and punishment:
I believe that much of what has been said about aversive control is mistaken, or at least misleading. Aversive control, in and of itself, it is not necessarily bad; sometimes it is good. And, more to the point, the alternative-positive reinforcement-is not necessarily good; sometimes it is bad. Aversive control is an inherent part of our world, inevitable feature of behavioral control, in both natural contingencies and contrived ones. When I say that aversive control is inevitable, I mean just that: Even the procedures that we regard as prototypes of positive reinforcement have elements of negative reinforcement or punishment imbedded within them (2003:1).”
S.R.Lindsay, Animal Welfare Propaganda and the Anti-Dog Training Agenda.
“If you are training a behaviour that requires intense, fast responding, make sure your dog is WELL DEPRIVED* of whatever reinforcement you are using” Reid.P. 1996, EXCEL-erated Learning. James and Kenneth, p43.
*My emphasis on above quote.”
HERE’S THE REASON I HAVE CHOSEN TO INCLUDE THIS DISCUSSION ON THIS PAGE ….. THIS IS THE TYPICAL RESPONSE YOU RECEIVE, WHEN YOU BEGIN TO PEEL AWAY THE LAYERS OF SOMEONE’S COMFORT BLANKET ALLOWING THEM TO REALISE FOR THEMSELVES, THAT (DESPITE THEIR ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENTS AND ALLEGED EXPERIENCE), THEY MIGHT ACTUALLY BE INCORRECT IN THEIR LEVEL OF UNDERSTANDING. THERE MIGHT ACTUALLY BE ROOM FOR INTROSPECTION AND SELF-ADJUSTMENT …..
“My mistake, I clearly joined the wrong group.”
There it is! Escape/avoidance … Flight ….. That’s what happens when an individual considers conversation ‘aversive’. Just like a dog, we can either submit and accept, fight or flee. In this instance, the verbal equivalent of ‘fight’ has seemingly proved ineffective for *****. ‘Submission/acceptance’ is simply not an option, the likely reason being that acceptance of one’s own error of judgement and realisation of inaccurate longstanding beliefs, is for many, considered even more aversive! This leaves one remaining option – Flight.
We’re all servants of our own Sympathetic Nervous Systems!