Category Archives: Operant conditioning

The “Invention” of Cues in Training

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 , , | 4 Comments

Corrections Are Punishment (If They Work)

Correction is a term used in certain segments of the dog training world. It commonly applies to jerking the dog’s leash (also called a “leash correction). Sometimes “correction” refers to other physical things people might do to a dog. Trainers … Continue reading

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Posted in Operant conditioning, Punishment, Punishment culture | Tagged , , | 15 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 analysis, 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 analysis, 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 analysis, 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 analysis, Classical conditioning, Dog training hints, Operant conditioning, Training philosophy | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments

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

This is the short version of this post. Here is the longer version. Some dog trainers who use tools such as shock, prong, or choke collars, or startle the dog with thrown objects or loud noises, claim that these things are … Continue reading

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Posted in Cues, Human and dog misunderstandings, Operant conditioning, Punishment culture, Reinforcement, Terminology | Tagged , , , , | 8 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 Aversive stimulus, 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