Positive Reinforcement Works On People, Too!   Leave a comment

Often what we ask our dogs to do is hard, or uncomfortable, or requires some level sacrifice. Asking your dog to sit to greet people rather than jumping is a lot less fun than letting excitement take over, and a lot less natural than greeting them face to face! Asking your dog to leave that fascinating roadkill he found alone is asking him to give up one of the coolest discoveries in dogdom! Asking your dog to stop chasing that squirrel and return to your side is HARD and goes against all of his instincts!

One of the basic ideas behind positive training is that if you make appropriate behaviors rewarding, dogs will be more likely to (happily) do them, even if they require a higher level of effort than the alternative or are in other ways naturally less appealing.

Volkswagon has taken the same principle, and tried it out on people, calling it “The Fun Theory.” They take things that are not that hard to do, but that most people don’t find worth doing, and make them fun to see if that will encourage more people to do them. For example, they transformed a staircase, which is right next to an escalator, into a giant piano that sounds each time you put a foot on a step. Their results are no surprise to positive trainers – making a behavior more fun encourages people to do it! The day after they installed the giant piano on the steps, 66% more people took the stairs than normal.

Here’s another example where they took a glass collection station and turned it into a arcade game. Check out the results:

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