There are still a lot of myths and misunderstandings about positive reinforcement horse training. One of the arguments against clicker training is that it’s bribery.
What is bribery? Here is the Wiki definition Short version:
“Bribery is the act of giving or receiving something of value in exchange for some kind of influence or action in return, that the recipient would otherwise not alter.”
I think that last part sums up why bribery feels unethical to me. Clicker training does not! I think clicker training is very ethical: you give the horse a voice and a choice in his own training!
3 differences between positive reinforcement and bribery:
- The horse gets a real choice and is not pressured. In clicker training you use a cue, not a threat. It’s giving the learner a choice that makes the difference between bribery and positive reinforcement. In bribery there’s an urgency for outcome.
- The horse doesn’t know what he is going to get as reinforcer before he acts, only after he has performed the behaviour. He does know it will be good!
In order to make this kind of training work for more than a few times you have to deliver good stuff and become trustworthy as trainer. Bribery doesn’t built on the relationship, positive reinforcement does.
- When bribery is refused there will be unpleasant consequences! There will be no punishment for the learner if he isn’t performing right away in clicker training.
What clicker myths do you want to see debunked here? Let me know in the comments (scroll all the way down).
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Sandra Poppema, B.Sc.
I help horse owners get the results in training they really, really want with joy and easy for both horse and human. I always aim for win-win!
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