Could positive reinforcement be reinforcing bad behavior? - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 41 (permalink) Old 11-19-2015, 01:22 PM Thread Starter
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Could positive reinforcement be reinforcing bad behavior?

I'm a big fan of (primarily) positive reinforcement training especially with the use of verbal markers. My newest GSD pup who's 12 mos old now has been trained this way from day one as have all my other dogs. Puppy is extremely smart though very independent and implusive ,very high energy and tough.Bad behaviors such as putting feet on the table, jumping, demanding attention, etc. she will stop when asked(then told 'yes' and rewarded) BUT she now seems to also be intentional engaging in these unwanted behaviors over and over again simply because she knows she'll be given a reward as the end result of doing that behavior. I do use a prong collar on her for walks and have had to resort to using harsh collar corrections to have her "down and stay" in the house to stop her from tormenting my senior male as he will only tolerate it for so long. She finally got the hint' that I was serious and she's gotten very compliant with that command. She isn't the least bit intimidated by a collar correction in general, so they have to be given pretty harsh which I honestly feel bad about. Has anyone else had the problem with what seems to be reinforcing a bad behavior by using positive reinforcement/rewards? Her basic obedience training with marker training/rewards is coming along great.

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post #2 of 41 (permalink) Old 11-19-2015, 01:38 PM
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Yeah. You are being very unclear. If a dog jumps on me I will not tell it no and then soon as its feet are touching the ground mark and reward. What got rewarded? The dog coming off your legs. What must the dog do to come off your legs to get the reward? Jump on you.

Think about this.

A honey badger will endure hundreds of bee stings to get to the honey in a beehive. Why? Because there was something gained by doing it and it was reinforcing.

Figure the rest out on your own.

Ask yourself these questions though

What does my dog want when it performs these actions?

Are my actions unintentionally giving the dog what it wants?

How can I take the incentive out of the behavior for the dog?
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post #3 of 41 (permalink) Old 11-19-2015, 01:41 PM
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I guess your case suggests yes, +R can reinforce bad behavior.

Look at a dog jumping on some one. They get giddy and rub the dog and say good boy, and think the dog loves them.

That is +R reinforcing bad behavior.

Theoretically you practice -R by saying no, a correction, and the dog stops unwanted behavior.

What you should do then is ask the dog to preform something else and only reward then, or simply back up your no with, no more fun and dog go to your place and relax instead.

Article on corrections, and the 4 quadrants of +-reinforcement and +-punishment

Dog Training Corrections are one of the most controversial issues for Dog Owners

Don't escalate the correction if the dog is getting desensitized to it, as it is not working and can be a source of frustration to you. Then you can make mistakes. Realize it isn't working and try another way, or work on you delivery of correction and timing. Verbal correction communication is sufficient for me with my dogs in the home. They know I mean it.

Prong might help you out. How to fit and use correctly with Tyler Muto

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nibaQnS44FE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85r03U5WPV8
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post #4 of 41 (permalink) Old 11-19-2015, 01:46 PM
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No and a correction in that example is positive punishment not negative reinforcement. The idea is the behavior is weakened through the addition of an aversive.

Escalating a correction is EXACTLY what you do when a dog is becoming desensitized to it. If you are punishing correctly the dog should stop the behavior before it ever develops a desensitization to it. If it is clear a social component eventually takes over anyway and escalation is no longer necessary.

Last edited by Baillif; 11-19-2015 at 01:49 PM.
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post #5 of 41 (permalink) Old 11-19-2015, 01:50 PM
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You sure, the no/asking to stop is the correction, behavior stopped in the ops case when he said no, but then after he treated the dog.

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Bad behaviors such as putting feet on the table, jumping, demanding attention, etc. she will stop when asked
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post #6 of 41 (permalink) Old 11-19-2015, 01:56 PM
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Escalating a correction is EXACTLY what you do when a dog is becoming desensitized to it. If you are punishing correctly the dog should stop the behavior before it ever develops a desensitization to it.
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She finally got the hint' that I was serious and she's gotten very compliant with that command. She isn't the least bit intimidated by a collar correction in general, so they have to be given pretty harsh which I honestly feel bad about.
Maybe you will escalate if the dog isn't responding, as you know the correct way to apply correction and how to counter act if dog gets desensitized or superstitious.

Personally I'd rather see someone, learn about what options are available and figure out petty house hold behaviors in sensible manner, with out escalating a leash pop which can be counter productive. It is the wrong correction in this case imo.
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post #7 of 41 (permalink) Old 11-19-2015, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by MadLab View Post
You sure, the no/asking to stop is the correction, behavior stopped in the ops case when he said no, but then after he treated the dog.
In this case I don't believe the no/asking to stop can be considered a correction. It's merely another command that the dog gets rewarded for.

If you want to use +R in situations like these, you need to reward the dog before he does the behavior. ie he might be thinking of jumping up, but you reward before he has a chance to jump up. Teaching how great it is the have four on the floor. Then if he jumps up you simply push him off and ignore him.

It might take a a few weeks to break the cycle that he's learned.
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post #8 of 41 (permalink) Old 11-19-2015, 02:06 PM
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If you can apply the +r before the behaviour, you might successfully train a different behaviour. In other words, dog looks at table to jump up, you say off, or whatever, dog doesn't jump up & collects treat. So at worst, dog learns to do interesting tricks with his/her head. But you can't be on the ball all the time, so you get what's happening now.
She reminds me soooo much of my Dynamo when we got her; she would drive our senior dog nuts if allowed too.
For seriously important stuff, I'd quit 'asking' and make sure you can back that up (sounds like you already know how), and keep on using plenty of +r training for everything that applies.
Where I'm coming from is this: Dynamo had high prey drive for our cats. We tried purely positive training, redirection, and while it seemed to be working her level of excitement ramped up, not down, and while she understood that obeying meant yummy things, she clearly considered the cats her eventual reward. So we eventually switched tactics in regards to the cats (prong) and she quickly learned not to do that. She turned to be VERY good with cats. We also never stopped all the +r training, but had notable exceptions.
Some very good advice here too.

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post #9 of 41 (permalink) Old 11-19-2015, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by MadLab View Post
You sure, the no/asking to stop is the correction, behavior stopped in the ops case when he said no, but then after he treated the dog.
What the OP is doing isnt a correction its a signal to perform the behavior of coming off the leg or table which was what was being marked and positively reinforced. The problem was in order to perform the behavior of coming off it had to get on in the first place so in effect the dog is being positively reinforced for the act of getting on in the first place.

Your example is different from the OP as far as I understood it.
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post #10 of 41 (permalink) Old 11-19-2015, 02:23 PM
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Think about this. If i dont want you to speak english the best way to do that isnt to teach you french. Sure you know french now too but why would that stop you from speaking english? To successfully get you to stop speaking english i have to punish you for speaking english somehow.
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