Category Archives: Behavior analysis

So Tell Me What You Want, What You Really Really Want: 9 Ways Preference Testing Can Go Wrong

What’s your favorite color? Do you prefer pie or ice cream? Which shirt do you like better: the striped one or the solid green one? Most of us have been asked our preferences since we were children. Sometimes we are being asked … Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior analysis, Choice, Research | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Do You Dogs REALLY Want To Come In?

(In answer to a couple of comments: The title of the post is correct. I am addressing my dogs and asking if they want to come in. Sorry if it comes off as clunky,) What do my dogs understand when … Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior analysis, Cues | Tagged , | 21 Comments

Latent Learning: The Original Definition

Latent learning has a precise definition in learning theory and it’s not what many people think. It’s not magic learning that happens during downtime–at least not in the way people assume. It is not a sudden better performance after a … Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior analysis, Positive Reinforcement | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

Leave It: Not Just for Dead Men Anymore

The other day I was pondering the trend of talking about teaching “self-control” and “impulse control” in our dogs. I got to thinking about “leave it,” both the term and the behavior. I realized a couple things. First, the term “leave it” … Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior analysis, Terminology, Zen/Leave it | Tagged , , | 27 Comments

Local Enhancement and Socially Facilitated Behaviors in Dogs

This post started out as one thing and transformed into another as I went along, as many of mine do. I have been familiar for a while with the term local enhancement for a type of social learning in dogs. … Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior analysis, Terminology | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Will the Mystery Antecedent Please Stand Up?

Thank you to Randi Rossman for discussing the scholarly work about antecedents with me. All mistakes are my own.  I recently found myself in a situation that dogs are in a lot of the time, and it was a revelation. … Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior analysis, Cues, Human and dog misunderstandings | Tagged , , , , , | 23 Comments

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

Are You Really Performing Classical Counterconditioning?

What do the following training descriptions have in common? “My dog’s afraid of strangers. But when she stops barking and makes eye contact with me, I give her a treat.” “I hold her foot. Then I give her a treat … Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior analysis, Classical conditioning, Desensitization and Counterconditioning | 28 Comments

Does Ignoring Bad Behavior Really Work?

Not usually and not by itself. And contrary to popular belief, “ignoring” behavior doesn’t play a huge part in positive reinforcement-based training. There is a lot of confusion about it, so I’m going to have a go at clarifying a … Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior analysis, Dog training hints | Tagged , , , | 38 Comments

My Dog Isn’t Food Motivated…Or Is She?

  Anyone who has taught a group training class, anyone who has given behavioral consults, and everyone who has spent any time on dog training discussion groups has probably heard this lament more than once: “My dog is just not food motivated.” … Continue reading

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Posted in Behavior analysis, Dog training hints | Tagged , , | 9 Comments