•Why don't clicker trainers use punishments as well as rewards?
A consequence of any behavior can be unpleasant as well as pleasant. So why shouldn’t punishments follow unwanted behaviors, just as rewards follow wanted behaviors?
Research tells us that punishment may decrease the frequency of an unwanted behavior, but usually results in producing another unwanted behavior. The results of punishment as a training method are difficult to predict and to control.
In addition, punishment is not usually identified with an event marker. It almost always comes after the event and is rarely clearly connected with a specific behavior. In the animal’s perception, punishment is a random, meaningless event. It is, therefore, less effective than the combined use of an event marker and positive reinforcement in changing behavior.
Clicker trainers also feel that their relationships with their animals are stronger and more rewarding when they focus on the positive rather than the negative. Like the difference between an animal behaving with intention rather than by habit, the difference in attitude and enthusiasm between an animal that works to earn rewards rather than to avoid punishment is vast.