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Negative Reinforcement and Negative Punishments

Discussion in 'Cat Training and Behaviour' started by jinksandchew, Nov 17, 2019.


  1. jinksandchew

    jinksandchew PetForums Newbie

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    Hi,

    I need some clear examples for the terms Negative Reinforcement and Negative Punishments. I understand the terms but I need to describe to non-trainers what this is without making it sound complicated. I also know that negative reinforcement should not ever be used but just want examples. Giving your cat a treat is a clear sign of Positive Reinforcement. Great examples of Not using the litterbox and scratching chair would be helpful. Many thanks
     
  2. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

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    In basic terms, positive refers to adding something, and negative means taking something away.
    Reinforcement and punishment are determined by the subsequent behavior. If the behavior is strengthened it is said to have been reinforced. If the behavior lessens or stops, then it was punished.

    Therefore:
    Positive reinforcement: Adding something the animal likes to make a behavior stronger.
    Cat sits for a treat, treat is given. Cat offers to sit more reliably and more often. The treat given for sitting is positive reinforcement.
    Negative reinforcement: Removing something the animal dislikes to make a behavior stronger.
    Most often used with horses. You pull on a rein to get the horse to turn, as soon as the horse gives in to the rein, you release the pressure. The pressure goes away to reinforce the behavior of turning in to the rein.
    Positive punishment: Adding something the animal dislikes to reduce a behavior.
    Spray bottle is one you see with cats. Cat claws at the curtains, owner sprays, curtain clawing is reduced or eliminated.
    Negative punishment: Removing something the animal likes to reduce or eliminate a behavior.
    When offered a treat the cat grabs and claws at the hand. Trainer removes hand and treat. Cat learns to not claw at hand or treat will go away.

    It's important to remember that it's the subsequent behavior that determines if something is punishing or reinforcing. For example, if a cat jumps on the counter and is sprayed every time but the behavior doesn't lessen or stop, then the spraying is not punishment. It may be unfair and unkind, but in behavioral terms it's not punishment because the cat is still jumping on the counter.

    I'm not sure why you would never use negative reinforcement? It's a perfectly valid and useful training technique. In fact all four quadrants are perfectly valid and useful.
     
  3. jinksandchew

    jinksandchew PetForums Newbie

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  4. jinksandchew

    jinksandchew PetForums Newbie

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    THis is amazing, thank you so much. Its more for a course I'm doing and I also get asked in my animal shelter volunteer role - I foster kittens. Here is what i think but just not 100% sure i am right.

    Not using the litterbox problem - cat peeing in corner of rooms
    Positive
    Add an extra litter box and or increase the size of the existing and or try another vanity of litter. Reward the cat with treats and praise when they do use the litter box.
    Negative (NOT RECOMMENDED) – screaming and chasing her away when you see her toileting outside the box.

    Cat Scratching Chair Problem
    Positive
    Entice them to scratch something else, like a scratching post. To do this, as soon as the cats scratches the post, immediately reward with treats, catnip, interactive play, and petting or grooming. Whichever the cat likes most.

    Negative (NOT RECOMMENDED)
    Throwing an item close to the cat or screaming at it when you see him scratching the chair
     
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  5. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

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    No, not quite. Positive refers to adding something, negative refers to taking something away. Has nothing to do with whether it's pleasant or not.
    You're also confusing management techniques with training behaviors.

    Management is adding a second or third litterbox, changing the litter used, changing the type of box. You're managing a behavior here.
    Rewarding a cat for using the litterbox correctly would be positive reinforcement. Screaming and chasing her away from the litterbox would be positive punishment (if it worked to deter the behavior you're trying to stop). But this is again, more management than training.

    Same with the scratching post. Providing appropriate scratching items is simply good management. Screaming or throwing things would technically be positive punishment - positive because of the addition of the projectile item, punishment because of the lessening of the behavior of scratching inappropriately. But mostly it's just poor human behavior.
     
  6. jinksandchew

    jinksandchew PetForums Newbie

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    WOW - im so confused now. As i thought it was all about the timing. So would negative be: putting aluminium around the chair and putting an unpleasant scent where they are peeing? I've read everywhere never to use negative reinforcement but the above seems ok and not cruel?
     
  7. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

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    Negative simply refers to removing something. Think of it like a minus sign in math. Negative means subtracting something. You remove it.
    If you want to reinforce a behavior, you remove something the animal dislikes to make the behavior stronger. The animal knows the more he/she does that behavior the less he/she will experience that thing they dislike.
    If you want to punish (lessen) a behavior, you remove something the animal likes. The animal knows if he/she does X then something they like or want goes away.

    Where have you read not to use negative reinforcement?
     
  8. jinksandchew

    jinksandchew PetForums Newbie

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    Loads of places: Hillspet. Its not letting me post the direct links

    "Never shout or scream at a cat and never hit or physically reprimand your cat. It's sometimes said that 'you just need to show them who is boss' or 'rub their noses in it'. This is not true. Cats do not respond well to negative reinforcement and it is a very ineffective way to reprimand your cat. In fact, actions such as this are more likely to make your cat avoid you entirely than correct her behaviour."

    Bansfield website
    Negative reinforcement does not work when training. Even if you catch your cat with her paws in the cookie jar, she will only act out when you are not around. If you punish the cat after the misdeed was done, she will not put two-and-two together and associate your words with the misconduct. You will also be training her to be suspicious of you and the problem will probably continue. Above all, some cats are naughty just to get attention and the attention, even if it is negative, is a reward in itself. So what can you do? So, are you taking the chair away is negative reinforcement? and covering the corner of rooms is negative reinforcement? That makes no sense to me. And also, im told it is about timing.

    So teaching the cat to walk on the lead
    Positive Re-Pull on the leash when your cat tries to run off in a direction you don’t want her to go
    Negative Re-when the cat stops pulling, remove the pulling pressure from the leash

    You’re trying to teach your cat to walk on a harness and leash outside. You pull on the leash when your cat tries to run off in a direction you don’t want her to go, but then remove the pulling pressure from the leash (NEGATIVE, since you’re removing the pressure) when your cat stops pulling you in an unwanted direction and walks next to you. Your cat learns that she prefers to walk next to you without the leash pressure (REINFORCEMENT, since walking next to you is repeated). (On the other hand, the pulling that you do would be POSITIVE (because you’re adding pressure), and getting her to stop the behaviour of running away from you would be PUNISHMENT.)
     
  9. jinksandchew

    jinksandchew PetForums Newbie

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    another website here:
    Common Cat Training Mistakes
    When training a cat, it's important to know a few basic things about them and how they react to efforts to change their behaviors. Here, we've compiled some of the common mistakes that people make with cat training.
    Using negative reinforcement. Yelling at, hitting, or otherwise harming or acting roughly toward a cat when they are doing something you don't want them to do doesn't work. The kitty won't understand the message you're trying to send about the behavior, but she will develop fear and stress directed toward you. And cats that are fearful and stressed develop negative behaviors like scratching and urinating inappropriately, so your problems will only increase if you engage in negative reinforcement.
     
  10. kimthecat

    kimthecat PetForums VIP

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    It can be confusing . I would recommend reading How Dogs Learn by Burch and Baily . Although its gives examples about dogs , it can be adjusted to cats.
    A lot of pennies dropped for me when I read it.

    Also Pam Johnson Bennets books have lots of tips about cat behaviour.

    Sometimes cats will scratch in different places , e.g the wall paper and toilet outside the box due to emotional reasons, e.g another cat being outside or smells on the front doormat . Things like using Feliway can be a great help , so dont just look at training but think what can be done to lessen their stress.

    Vet checks too are important if a cat is toileting outside the litter tray , or weeing on plastic bags or in the bath . They may have Cystitis .
     
    #10 kimthecat, Nov 17, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2019
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  11. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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    @jinksandchew - just to say, I have never yet met a cat who would walk on a harness and leash right next to me.;)

    A cat who constantly pulls on the leash is not going to like being restrained, and IME is not a suitable candidate for leash walking. A cat, because of their independent nature, is very unlikely to learn to walk alongside the owner from being pulled back into line. They are much more likely to sulk, lie down and refuse to move if the leash is pulled on regularly. i.e. it is not a suitable training tool.

    "Walking" a cat on a leash is a misnomer. The reality (when it works) is the cat wears a harness with lead attached, owner keeps tight hold of leash, cat ambles around the garden (or safe area) at their leisure, and the owner follows patiently behind. :)

    A better example would have perhaps been training the cat to wear a harness in the first place. :)
     
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  12. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

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    Oh wow, well that explains the confusion. Sorry but all of those examples are inaccurate. Of course it's not a good idea to yell hit or be rough with a cat, or any animal for that matter, but that is not negative reinforcement.

    Here is a glossary of terms, they're alphabetical, just scroll down to positive and negative reinforcement and punishment.
    https://www.clickertraining.com/glossary/17

    That site is very helpful for training and management issues also. And accurate :)
    https://www.clickertraining.com/cat-training?source=navbar



    Just to add though, the APO (and even some of the good trainers out there) don't need to know the exact terms to be kind and effective in training. You don't need to know if what you're doing is -P or +R to get a good result while being kind to the animal. As long as you are a good observer, empathetic, and understand basic body language, in the end it doesn't really matter how well you know your science behind it.
    It is helpful IMO to understand the science well, and it helps you be able to explain to others why something works (or doesn't), but I've yet to meet a dog or cat or horse who cares at all if you know your terms :)
     
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  13. jinksandchew

    jinksandchew PetForums Newbie

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    i understand, just trying to get examples of negative and positive reinforcement and using that as an example. :)
     
  14. buffie

    buffie Mentored by Meeko

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    ............nor is the human holding the lead a good candidate to lead walk a cat if they expect to be anything more than a spectator ;):)
     
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  15. chillminx

    chillminx PetForums VIP

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  16. jinksandchew

    jinksandchew PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you so much for your time. I've also posted the same question in a huge cat behaviour facebook group and they commented, "never use negative reinforcement" and blocked my post from comments. - I had a look at the websites and i think the penny has dropped.
    Cat Scratching Chair - same could be applied to toileting by putting nasty smelling spray
    Positive - As soon as the cats scratches the post, immediately reward with treats, catnip, interactive play, and petting or grooming. Whichever the cat likes most.
    Negative - Spraying lemon scent of putting aluminium foil to make the experience unpleasant. As soon as the cat scratches she will get instant relief when she jumps off.
    Teaching the cat to walk on lead -Positive Reinforcement: Pull on the leash when your cat tries to run off in a direction you don’t want her to go. When she stops pulling give her a treat. Negative Reinforcement, You pull on a leash to get the cat to stop the cat pulling away, as soon as the cat stops, you release the pressure. The pressure goes away to reinforce the behaviour of pulling away
    Thanks again.
     
  17. jinksandchew

    jinksandchew PetForums Newbie

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    thank you. great idea re: dogs - so much more info that relates to the positive and negative
     
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  18. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

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    No, not exactly there yet....
    The animal is the one who determines what is punishing and what is reinforcing.
    And you're still confusing management and training. When you leash a cat you're not really teaching any behaviors, you're simply managing. Preventing her running off. You can desensitize to the leash and harness, and condition a positive association with the leash and harness, but that's not operant conditioning. You're not teaching behaviors there, just getting her used to wearing and moving with a leash and harness.
     
  19. jinksandchew

    jinksandchew PetForums Newbie

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    arrrgghhhhh haha. however, i was told my tutor this is correct. eg it depends on the timing. Pulling on the leash can be both a positive punishment and a negative reinforcement. It is a negative reinforcement when you take away the pressure when the cat isn't pulling. So although management, i would assume you need to "manage" a situation to get the desired response from a behaviour when it be good or bad? p.s thank you. i will continue to read stuff but you are right, it's not operant learning so i'll do another example. thank you thank you
     
  20. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

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    More than timing, it is the subject who determines punishment or reinforcement. If the cat doesn't care about the sensation of the leash pulling on them, then you example is neither negative reinforcement nor positive punishment. It's nothing. You have to see how the animal reacts and if the behavior of pulling is lessened.

    One way I think about it that helps, is that negative reinforcement and positive punishment rely on having something the subject dislikes that you either add or remove. But it has to be something the cat cares enough to work to avoid for it to work.
    It's also important to remember than punishers loose their strength easily. Animals are great at habituating to annoying stimuli. They tune it out. Especially if there is a greater reward beyond the annoying stimulus. If the cat pulls but gets to a great spot they want to be at, the reward of the spot is going to trump the annoyance of the pulling.
     
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