Category Archives: Behavior analysis

The Dog Decides

“The dog decides what is reinforcing.” Positive reinforcement trainers frequently say that to their human students.  What they mean is that people can easily be mistaken about whether something constitutes reinforcement. For instance, we may think praising or petting our dogs are reinforcers, but … Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior analysis, Terminology, Training philosophy | Tagged | 12 Comments

But It Worked for My Dog!!

What happens when someone shares a “success” story about training with aversives? Here’s my response to a commenter who did so on one of my previous posts. A Parable Once there was a woman named Reva who had a serious health condition that needed … Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior analysis, Escape/Avoidance, Negative Reinforcement, Punishment | Tagged , , | 31 Comments

Natural vs. Contrived Negative Reinforcement

I read the following online the other day: People shouldn’t object to the use of negative reinforcement! It’s just stuff like washing my hands when they are dirty or drying them when they are wet. What’s wrong with that? This is … Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior analysis, Negative Reinforcement | Tagged , , | 22 Comments

Not All “Choices” Are Equal (Choice: Part 1)

Shout-outs to Companion Animal Psychology for the post, The Right to Walk Away” which covers the effects of offering that particular choice in animal experiments, and encourages us to apply the concept to our animals’ lives. Also to Yvette Van Veen for her … Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior analysis, Operant conditioning, Training philosophy | Tagged , | 21 Comments

“Good Sit!”

Here is a quiz. Let’s say someone says, “Sit,” to a dog, intending the word as a cue. What part of speech is the word, “Sit”? Then, what part of speech is the same word if we say, “Good sit!” afterwards? That was … Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior analysis, Cues, Dog training hints | Tagged , | 27 Comments

6 Myths about Positive Reinforcement-Based Training

Positive reinforcement-based training is subject to a lot of misunderstanding and misrepresentation. Many people genuinely don’t understand how it works, and others seem to deliberately misrepresent it. Some of these misunderstandings and misrepresentations are very “sticky.”  Misunderstandings, straw men, myths–call them … Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior analysis, Critical Thinking, Positive Reinforcement | 25 Comments

But I’ve Seen Stressed-Out Dogs During Positive Reinforcement Training Too!

Thank you to Jennifer Titus of CARE for Reactive Dogs for editorial advice. All errors and awkward moments are mine alone. Citing “stressed-out R+ dogs” in an argument is an old chestnut that comes around regularly. The writer usually describes a training session he or she witnessed where a … Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior analysis, Escape/Avoidance, Negative Reinforcement, Operant conditioning, Positive Reinforcement | 10 Comments

Bootleg Reinforcement

Auf Deutsch! -Many thanks to Debbie Jacobs, Randi Rossman, and Dr. Susan Friedman for making suggestions about the movies. Any errors are, of course, my own. Did you know that there is interesting name for that thing that messes up our … Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior analysis, Dog training hints, Reinforcement | Tagged , , | 53 Comments

How to Make Extinction Not Stink

[In operant learning], extinction means withholding the consequences that reinforce a behavior.  –Paul Chance, Learning and Behavior, Fifth Edition, 2003 This post is Part 2 (a year later!) of But Isn’t it Punishment to Withhold the Treat? In that post I … Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior analysis, Extinction, Punishment | 29 Comments

What Does Shower Mold Have to Do With Dog Training?

Am I really reaching today, or what? You be the judge! There is a series of articles in the behavioral psychology literature that questions whether the distinction between positive and negative reinforcement is important.* These papers are often quoted by people who … Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior analysis, Escape/Avoidance, Human psychology, Negative Reinforcement, Positive Reinforcement | 37 Comments