WHAT ARE THE FOUR QUADRANTS OF DOG TRAINING?
The four quadrants are Positive Reinforcement, Negative Reinforcement, Positive Punishment and Negative Punishment. Together, they are used to modify a dog’s behavior with reinforcement and punishment—or, in other words, by encouraging or discouraging behaviours through consequences.
What do these four terms mean? That’s an important question because some of the language used in the quadrants—like the words “negative” and “punishment”—is often misconstrued.
The meanings of “reinforcement” and “punishment” are also often misinterpreted. Reinforcement means to increase or maintain an existing behavior while punishment means to decrease the likelihood of a behavior happening again. “Punishment” does not mean harming a dog to encourage or discourage behavior but rather adding or subtracting something from a situation to decrease the chances of an unwanted behavior recurring.
It’s helpful to think of reinforcement as “more of” and punishment as “less of.” When paired with positive, you’re adding something to get more of a particular behavior or adding something to get less of a behavior. When paired with negative, you’re removing something to get more of a behavior or less of a behavior.
So, using the definitions above, we can get a clear understanding of what each of the quadrants represents and how they apply to dog training: