Category Archives: Behavior Science

I explore behavior science like a kid in a candy store. I hope I can convey how fascinating it is, whether it’s about dogs or even humans!

“I Will Never Use the Shock Collar Again!”

This is a story from a client of one of my professional trainer friends. Let’s call my friend “Phoebe.” My friend had met the client for some coaching for her young, exuberant dog, Raven. But it was a very long … Continue reading

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Posted in Aversive stimulus, Behavior Science, Shock Collars, Why Use Positive Reinforcement? | Comments Off on “I Will Never Use the Shock Collar Again!”

The Stages of Crossover

When I crossed over to training with positive reinforcement, I had no idea how much my behavior and even my belief system would need to change. I had to question my faith in some long-held cultural assumptions and learn to … Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior Science, Positive Reinforcement | 27 Comments

All That’s Unpleasant Does Not Punish

I’ve written a lot about the behavior science definitions of reinforcement and punishment. That’s because they can trip us up so easily. Something can be attractive, but not always reinforce behavior. Something can be unpleasant, but not serve to decrease … Continue reading

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Posted in Aversive stimulus, Behavior Science, Extinction, Punishment | 4 Comments

1:1 Pairings: The Science Behind Clicking and Treating

A guest post by Eduardo Fernandez,  first published in 2001 in the now out-of-print American Animal Trainer Magazine as “Click or Treat: A Trick or Two in the Zoo.” A recent discussion on an Association of Zoos and Aquariums listserv, … Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior Science | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Doesn’t Intermittent Reinforcement Create a Stronger Behavior?

This article was first published by Clean Run – The Magazine for Dog Agility Enthusiasts, in August 2017. I changed the title after publication in this version. Please see the note about that at the end of the article.   … Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior Science, Matching law, Reinforcement | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

A Quadrant by Any Other Name is Still a Cornerstone of Operant Learning

There is a science that deals directly with how organisms learn and how to use that information to change the environment in order to change behavior. It’s called applied behavior analysis (ABA). It is the applied version of behavior analysis, … Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior Science, Extinction, Operant conditioning, Terminology | Tagged , | 17 Comments

Herrnstein’s Matching Law and Reinforcement Schedules

  Have you heard trainers talking about the matching law? This post covers a bit of its history and the nuts and bolts of what it is about. I am providing this rather technical article because I want something to link to … Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior Science, Operant conditioning, Reinforcement, Research | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Speeding Tickets: Negative or Positive Punishment?

Speeding tickets are commonly used as an example in learning theory textbooks. But I’m going to disagree with the typical classification because of my own experience. Here’s a true story. When I was about 20, I was driving in my … Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior Science, Operant conditioning, Punishment | Tagged , , , , | 19 Comments

Actually, I **Can** Get My Dogs’ Attention

I was thinking the other day about how and why I have a dream relationship with my dogs. They are cooperative. They are sweet. They are responsive and easy to live with. You know how I got there? Training and … Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior Science, Classical conditioning, Dog Training, Operant conditioning, Why Use Positive Reinforcement? | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

Positive Punishment: 3 Ways You Might Use It By Accident

Positive reinforcement-based trainers never use positive punishment, right? At least we certainly try not to. But it can sneak into our training all the same. Punishment, in learning theory, means that a behavior decreases after the addition or removal of … Continue reading

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Posted in Aversive stimulus, Behavior Science, Punishment | Tagged , , | 16 Comments