In 2003, while volunteering for a no-kill animal shelter in Atlanta Georgia, I heard the term “positive reinforcement” for the first time. It was often followed by things like “bribery” and “won’t work with hard cases”.
Not long after I watched a documentary on Elephants. For as long as anyone can remember, elephants have been trained with something called a bull hook. If you don’t know what a bull hook is, it is something rather unpleasant, but had proven effective against the gentle giants. The documentary showed that using raw sugar cane was significantly more effective in coercing these beasts to do weird things like stand on their heads. When Mother Nature created elephants, I’m pretty sure she never intended for them to stand on their heads, but nonetheless they complied. And teaching them to do it through positive reinforcement resulted in a more rapid acceptance, and a stronger bond between the animal and the trainer. The same goes for dogs.