It’s Not Rocket Science. Positive Works.

To say I don’t watch television would be a lie, but to say I don’t religiously follow any particular program would not be far from the truth.  When I do turn on the tube I’m a terrible driver of the remote and usually turn it over out of self-frustration.  However, I have found when nobody else is around and I have to make a decision, I’m a sucker for a good crime investigation or some fascinating love story, but to truly keep my attention, comedy is my weakness.  I love to laugh so I usually gravitate to reruns of older sitcoms that have long been off the air and have syndicated to some high number channel.  Due to the fact that I don’t spend much time in the lower channels, other than a select few, I’m pretty oblivious to the newer shows.  This is because new, especially in recent television, usually means more reality so I stick to the “good” shows and never planned on straying, until recently.  I stumbled upon a newer comedy that I can’t stop watching.

 It’s called the Big Bang Theory and even though it is pretty funny, the marathons they’ve been running of this show have somewhat influenced my viewing choice.  I talk today about it because not many times has a comedy series related to my life, which is the exact reason I watch them.  Too many of the dramas hit too close to home, and it frightens me just a little 😉  However, just the other day I was watching Big Bang and could not stop laughing at the likeness of the story to what I’m learning and attempting to teach.

 In this episode there are three characters involved, Sheldon (the uptight and controlling scientist), Leonard (Sheldon’s roommate and laid back scientist) and Penny (the blonde free spirit, also Leonard’s girlfriend).  Being uptight and anal, Sheldon dislikes Penny and her free-spirited behavior but was asked by Leonard to be nice.  The specific scene I related to was the three of them sitting and watching T.V.  Although irritated with most of her antics, every time Penny would exhibit behavior that Sheldon approved of he would offer her a piece of chocolate.  Knowing how Sheldon felt about Penny Leonard was at first confused but didn’t question it until he realized that Sheldon was using positive reinforcement to modify Penny’s behavior to his liking.

 I laughed probably harder than it really called for, but it was a real shake-my-head kind of moment, because if you truly think about it the concept has been around for centuries.  Positive reinforcement is not foreign by any means, it is something that has been used in lab rats, on employees (meet a goal, get a raise), on our children (finish your homework, get candy) why is there even an argument about using it on our dogs?  Considering the impressive and positive outcomes we have seen when it comes to people, the use of positive reinforcement in dog training just makes sense and it’s simple, just like in the television series.  Every time Penny did something Sheldon liked, she got chocolate.  She had no understanding that this was a reward of any kind just that when she didn’t talk during the show or when she lowered the tone of her laugh she received a piece of chocolate and subconsciously she started to make the connection. AWESOME!!  Simple. 

 Although it is a scientific theory, Positive Reinforcement is one of the easier one’s to understand and can be used in your everyday life.  Put it to the test.  Next time your dog is lying down without you asking or not barking at the neighbor, give them a treat.  Continue to reward him for things he’s doing right and he will want to do the right thing.  Soon you will notice the bad behavior less and less.  Dogs are self-rewarding (like children), they use their behavior to get what they want whether it’s attention, food or a toy.  If they are not rewarded for behavior you consider to be bad, they will eventually make the connection that they don’t get what they want by acting bad, and will begin to behave in a way that will get them rewards – Good.

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