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Only positive

Looking for a positive only trainer ? That's great .. Nothing wrong with that, Except that there is no such thing as a positive only trainer... 


Most times, It's a marketing tactic making clients feel better... As a client and a caring dog owner, just like us, you naturally want the best, kindest way have been told or seen endless times, 'if you love your dog - use a force free positive only approach" 


For one, are you including positive punishment in that request? You'd be better knowing what it is you are actually asking for.

Trainers in need of clients offer WHAT THEY KNOW YOU WANT TO HEAR,   ..but it's dishonest - if they have ever withheld a treat from a dog ..then it was a negative .. 

If anyone puts a leash on a dog, it is no longer positive only training... You may positively train a dog into a crate ..but really - caging a domesticated animal?..boxing them up? For human convenience ..oh, it's for safety, Like a muzzle..also positively trained to wear.. and a lead, and restraint .. and a request to do something .. it all gets a bit silly doesn't it? 

You know that its become a bit silly  - like the world around us these days where it seems everyone is offended. You dont want a trainer to be harsh or tell you to be harsh.

 As a skilled trainer, with a degree education in Canine Cognition, practicing for over 40 yrs now. 

I understand all styles of training. Each dogs needs are different so methods will be different for each dog.  while 'we' the unlabelled trainers, predominamtly use positive reinforcement, we also understand that there are 4 quadrants in training, and just using one won't make you successful with your dog.  it is limiting and your dog deserves better. We are always adding to, or taking away +/-.  We are always reinforcing something by our actions.

We don't use compulsion methods ..there are tools we don't use, not because we disagree with their professional use, but because there are skilled trainers out there that can ..and we don't have that experience.. even after 40 years.

But we also don't give you misleading sales talk .. did you know it is part of their code of conduct to promote the movement of 'force free' at every opportunity.

(Then they'll teach you how to cage your dog for convenience)

Aversive techniques tend to be used mainly by beginner trainers, those with less education and more hands on experience with dogs that simply are not mainstream family pets... or people who claim they can train your dog.. and since you can train your dog, literally everyone is a dog trainer.

Make sure research is done on the profesional trainer that fits you. 

 I personally dislike labels.  I may put an advert on social media and amongst the comments will always be an 'are you positive only?' question.. Labels have their uses ..they are good for warnings of danger.. but the 'caution hot water' label above a hot tap is really a little bit patronising  to an educated adult. 


I assume that you are an educated and intelligent adult .. However if you absolutely need one.  

I am a positive, negative, force free, balanced, reward based, science based, clicker training, treat throwing, treat withdrawing, communication based, tool using, hands on, hands off, education based, common sense based trainer with the real qualification (not just a self promoting internet college of ideology/methodology)

I focus on building up a healthy, fun, playful yet serious, strong, safety based relationship with you and your dog.  A Relationship based trainer. 

As such, positive reinforcement is probably 95% of what we and most trainers do.  Just like you do at home..  only I've done my job my entire life - I wouldn't expect to know the intricacies of your job and wouldn't dream to understand it to the level that you do.


So ask before assuming that those that don't label for sales and promotion must use horrible methods.. . give us more credit than that.

We just don't have our heads in the clouds or restrict what the dog can learn because of our ego or desire to be virtuous.. the dog comes first.

To play devils advocate -

(How many of those trainers have a slippery wooden or laminated floors at home or astro turf - knowing that kinder alternatives are preferable/.. the world isn't a cotton wool wrapped up environment.. your dog learns to keep off the hot grass ...walk, not run .. why? Well it's not due to only positive emotive learning but the negative consequences were not cruel either  - just factual.


Your child/grandchild is about to run across a busy road to get his football.. what do you do?

..initially grab him to prevent it 


There you go ..not too positive was it?

Interrupt the behaviour and then teach him what is acceptable and safe.

Ideally you will then practice with him learning to cross the road, starting with you holding hands - quiet road - no cars.


You may also prevent the situation from occurring in the first place ..but avoidance isn't education or learning safe coping mechanisms.


Stopping dangerous or unhealthy behaviours isn't done by reinforcement.. the very word itself describes what happens ..its reinforced.. However learning something new is easily done by reinforcement ..imagine your child learning 'abc's' - of course rewards work best - but on that line of thinking - when did a school ever offer only positive schooling for children (I bet you got a detention) and did a parent ever get to dictate how schooling was carried out?


Those that label themselves "positive reinforcement trainers",  like to use this label because it paints a picture - one you want to buy into. 


You are kind to your dog, and understandably you couldn't hire someone who would hurt or scare your dog


When in actual fact, positive reinforcement is NOT a training method in and of itself. 


Its only 1 learning quadrant utilised in an overall training methodology, of at least 2 or more equally important quadrants.


Just as you cannot call someone a "positive punishment" trainer, as its not a "method of training" (because its not the only quadrant used), you cannot call yourself a positive reinforcement trainer for the same reason. 


Both of these learning quadrants are included in an overall training methodology, which includes other quadrants, which are just as important to the overall learning process. 



This is the issue we face, is trainers putting quadrants into a box, a quadrant box, and then falsely labeling their box as the method of their training, so the "method" sounds either good (positive reinforcement trainer) 


You, along with any other mammal CANNOT learn everything from just 1 quadrant, and therefore a single quadrant is not a method of training. 


To suggest that ALL training should be positive reinforcement, doesn't account for the fact that we must also use other quadrants, for example, negative punishment. But these trainers would never call them self a "negative punishment" trainer because it doesn't present them in the same "positive" light as "positive reinforcement" trainer. 


If you were truly a positive reinforcement trainer, you'd never withdraw or withhold a positive reinforcer until the dog responded appropriately... Or you'd possibly have to call yourself a "positive reinforcement, negative punishment" trainer, to be even closely accurate to describing your method of training.


This is why I don't like these quadrant labels for trainers, falsely suggesting a quadrant is a stand-alone method of training. As in most cases, it's falsely suggesting thats all they use in their training., when in fact you can never train an animal or learn by just utilising 1 quadrant.


This positively labeling a training method is really no more than emotive, to paint those that don't follow their ideology in a negative/bad light and them in a positive/good light. "We never punish with our training, we only use positive reinforcement, and therefore humane. They punish and therefore cruel".  


And yet they do punish, and that punishment can be just as psychologically stressful on the dog when not applied appropriately or correctly.


Don't judge a trainer because they don't use a positive emotive label to pull you in. Choose a trainer based on their ability to be 'transparent' honest with you and their results, after all, that's all that matters in the end.

Here's how things could become very confusing/misleading ..


Positive - adding something

Reinforcement - to increase behaviour


Throwing a bottle of pebbles down next to the dog to increase the dogs behaviour of being quiet.


Squirting water in the dogs face to increase quiet behaviour 


Yanking the leash to increase behaviour of better walking at your side




Positive - adding something

Punishment - behaviour decreases


Adding a lead to stop the dog from running after sheep


Adding training to stop jumping up behaviour


Adding confinement/crate to stop the dog chewing up your home




Negative - removing something 

Reinforcement - to increase behaviour


Removed the sight of other dogs to increase calm behaviour


Took away access to puddles to increase likelihood of staying dry


Took away toys to increase odds of dog not chewing them up




Positive - adding something 

Punishment - to decrease behaviour


Add a crate - to decrease over arousal nipping and biting


Add a lead to decrease likelihood of running over to other dogs


Adding training to decrease impulsive behaviours





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