Category Archives: Operant conditioning

Don’t Be Callous: How Punishment Can Go Wrong

This post includes discussion of animal experimentation from the 1950s and 1960s using shock. It is unpleasant to contemplate. But to me, it makes it even worse that the knowledge gained by those studies is not widely known. Studying that … Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior analysis, Operant conditioning, Punishment | Tagged , | 19 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

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

Dog Training Basics: Getting the Behavior

I think one of the hardest steps for people who cross over to positive reinforcement based training is learning how to get a dog to start performing a behavior. If we have experience with mild force-based methods, such as verbally telling the dog to … Continue reading

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Posted in Clicker, Dog training hints, Operant conditioning | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

When is it OK for Your Dog to Pull on Leash?

Is there actually a situation in which it’s OK for your dog to pull on leash? Oh, yes. For fearful and reactive dogs there are at least two! One is when you are practicing desensitization/counterconditioning with your dog in public and can’t ask her … Continue reading

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Posted in Classical conditioning, Desensitization and Counterconditioning, Dog training hints, Fear, Operant conditioning, Reactivity | Tagged , , , | 31 Comments

The Girl with the Paper Hat (Part 1 of 2)

Once upon a time there was a girl who decided to teach her dog some tricks. She figured out that if she gave her dog something he liked after he did something she liked, he was liable to do the … Continue reading

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Posted in Cues, Dog training hints, Operant conditioning, Positive Reinforcement | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

It’s Not Painful. It’s Not Scary. It Just Gets the Dog’s Attention!

Some dog trainers who use tools such as shock, prong, or slip collars, or startle the dog with thrown objects or loud noises, claim that these things are done only to “get the dog’s attention.” They may further insist that the dog … Continue reading

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Posted in Cues, Human and dog misunderstandings, Operant conditioning, Punishment culture, Reinforcement, Terminology | Tagged , , , , | 40 Comments

16 Behavioral Cues that I Didn’t Train (But are Still For Real)

When most of us think of cues, we think of the verbal ones we teach our dogs. “Sit,” “Down,” “Here!” Perhaps we have taught them some hand signals as well. To teach a cue we go through a set process … Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior analysis, Cues, Discrimination, Operant conditioning | Tagged , , | 45 Comments

Discussing Negative Reinforcement Responsibly

I didn’t give today’s post a cute title, because this situation makes me very, very sad. There are some strange claims going around the dog training community. They are not being made by shock trainers, although I am sure they appreciate … Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior analysis, Escape/Avoidance, Negative Reinforcement, Operant conditioning, Terminology | Tagged | 56 Comments

Why Not to Respond to that FaceBook Post While You’re All Fired Up

Thanks to Scott Beale on Flickr for the photo.  This post may not about what you think. There are several obvious reasons not to rush off the deep end with a critical FaceBook comment, first among them that you may … Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior analysis, Escape/Avoidance, Human psychology, Operant conditioning | Tagged , , | 13 Comments