Motivation is the essence of training

The first and the most important step in training is to find a proper motivation.

All of animals are motivated by food, water, sex and avoidance of negative stimuli – those are unconditioned reinforcers. Some animals may be motivated by play, attention, possibility of socialisation or access to certain goods.

There are two possible ways of motivation:
– When we use rewards, motivation is created by the desire to get those rewards. If it is relatively easy to get them, the motivation increases – motivation brings success and sucess brings motivation.
– When we apply aversive methods, motivation is created by the desire to avoid negative stimuli. An animal will do only what is necessary to avoid negatively associated adjustment AND NOTHING MORE.

Type of motivation influences the effectivnes of learning. Research conducted at the University of Rennes (France) showed that animals rewarded tend to learn quicker than animals trained with aversive methods. Additionally, animals rewarded are more curious, eager to spend time with caretaker or experiment.

Is it really true that if you use food a dog/chicken/horse does it for food, and not for you?

Trainers who think that animals work to please their owners seem to be unaware of the fact that the only ‘motivator’ that they use is pain. An animal trained with use of aversive methods in theory trains ‘for us’, because the only positive reinforcer are possible . In reality however, working for us is simply trying to avoid the coercion.