Monthly Archives: June 2012

Is Positive Training Bribery?

Absolutely Not! I am a big fan of reward based training methods! One of my mentors is Victoria Stilwell, best known for her role as the star of Animal Planet’s hit TV series It’s Me or the Dog. Victoria is one of the very few “TV personality trainers” that I would recommend watching because she understands how dogs learn according to the latest scientific research and shares her passion for positive (dog-friendly) training methods on her show and in her books. Victoria recently wrote a great article on her blog site on the topic of why positive training is not bribery. To best explain, I am re-posting her blog post here. I have included a link directly to her site and encourage you to read more of Victoria’s blog topics as well. Positively Victoria Stilwell Blog “Many who discount the power of positive training often frown upon the use of food in training and claim that it is tantamount to bribery.  Having heard this argument from traditional trainers ad nauseum, I have finally determined that it is usually motivated by one of two things (or maybe both): 1.   A desire to have the dog ‘work’ for his food simply because it’s what we want, and given that we’re smarter, stronger and in charge, that should be enough, or 2.   An unnecessary and unfounded fear that once the food stops flowing, the unwanted behaviors will return. As for the first point, there’s not much we can do with someone who feels the need to dominate such an eager-to-please species, so we’ll leave that one for their human psychologists.  And while the second point above is a more understandable concern, this frequently-repeated myth not only completely disregards the scientific fact that food literally alters an animal’s brain chemistry, but also suggests a fundamental lack of understanding regarding the basic scientific principles of how reward-based training (conditioning) works. To truly comprehend why food is so powerful, you must first understand the influence it has on the dog’s brain. Food has the power to not only enhance a dog’s ability to learn but … Continue reading

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