I am taking Susan Friedman’s Living and Learning with Animals professional online course. Woo hoo! It is incredible. My brain is so happy with all the new stuff I am feeding it. And the sense of community created by how the class is run is incredible. One gets glimpses of How the World Could Be.
I’ve got training and learning and behavior on my mind even MORE than usual.
So the other day I was explaining to a friend why I was buying multiple cheap toys at the Dollar Store for Summer to shred. We are preparing to compete in AKC Rally Advanced, where one of the exercises is to ignore either food on the floor (no problem) or toys (possible problem) while heeling off leash. Summer’s biggest fun by far with toys has always been to dismember them. She is a very “doggie dog” and I am happy to oblige her since she does these silly competitions with me. I wanted to treat her with a toy she could shred after successfully ignoring one on the floor, and to be able to do this daily or so for a while.
I realized as I was telling my friend about it that we have a phrase in English, “Let the punishment fit the crime.” And a resonating cultural tradition for that that goes way back. An eye for an eye…. But I was grasping around for the positive corollary for that expression and it wasn’t there. Where is the saying for letting the reinforcer fit the task?
Dr. Friedman refers to the global confusion about behavior, learning, reinforcement and punishment as the Cultural Fog. I realized I had blundered into a really good example of it.
Then it came to me. The next time you, your companion human, or your companion animal does something really spectacular:
“Let the treat fit the feat.”
Here’s a nice example of it. Marge Rogers is reinforcing her dog for recalling to her away from eating a plateful of tasty food. At 0:50 when she calls him and he comes quickly and immediately, she gives him really high value food, a piece at a time from her hands, which extends the duration of the reward experience. She is also praising him and giving him her undivided attention. She is telling Rounder that he has done something really spectacular.
Here’s another one. Could you imagine Summer giving this kind of enthusiasm for one piece of kibble?
Soon back to our regularly scheduled blog entries.
Discussions coming soon:
- A milestone with Summer
- Comparing licking and tongue flick behaviors
- “Errorless learning”
- Canine Cognitive Dysfunction
- Feral Clara
Thanks for reading!