Saturday, February 26, 2011

Dog Behavior Part 4: Putting it Together & Questions to Answer on Your Own

In last three posts I have talked about counter conditioning. In post number two I discussed reinforcement-- a category of  counter conditioning. In the last post I went in depth on punishment-- another category of counter conditioning. Both of the categories of counter conditioning have sub-categories known as positives and negatives. We also discussed using aversive stimuli & appetitive stimuli to shape a desired response. I talked about classical conditioning- the linking of an unconditioned stimulus and a conditioned stimulus which results in a psychological response. Today I'd like to talk more about these subjects in basic dog training scenarios.

  • You are a novice dog trainer. You are teaching your 9 week old puppy to sit on command. (In this scenario we will call the puppy Rover). You put a leash on Rover and walk him to a quiet, low distraction room in your house. You can use an appetitive stimulus (treat) to lure the dog into the sit position. When Rover sits you mark the behavior with "good dog" and immediately give him the treat. You could also pull up on his leash until he sits down and then remove the leash pulling, which is the aversive stimulus. What type of reinforcement are you using when you mark the behavior with the treat??? What type of reinforcement are you using when you stop pulling on the leash when the Rover sits??? If you have read the last posts you can probably answer those questions for yourself.
  • Your dog is an excited greeter and when you come home for work she practically knocks you over with excitement. (we will call the dog Lily.) Though Lily doesn't jump on you she zooms around your legs and gets in your way. You have an elderly mother who comes to visit often and you're afraid that Lily will end up hurting her. What do you do? You could, number one, grab Lily by the collar and yank her into a sit position and say "NO!" every time she gets super excited or, number two, you could take your attention away from her and completely ignore her existence until she settles down and sits to get attention. Which one is more effective??? You tell me! Which one is an example of positive punishment and which one is an example of negative punishment??? Once again I'll leave that up to you. 
  •  Your dog is scared of his crate (once again we'll call him Rover). He has separation anxiety issues and dislikes his crate because you put him in it every time you leave for long periods of time. You want Rover to like the crate. You can put treats in the crate and wait for him to go in to the crate to get the treat. After lots of repetition of this process most dogs will begin to re-associate the crate with food. When crate training puppies I often give them a Kong stuffed with peanut butter to keep them occupied while I leave for awhile. That helps the puppy associate the crate with treats from the very beginning. You use _______ and ________ to help a fearful dog re-associate a fearful stimulus with an appetitive stimulus??? Also, note: If you want a crate-loving dog you should never put the puppy in the crate in anger. Sometimes when the puppy is giving a hard time you can put him in his crate, but don't shove him in slam the door and leave. He will begin associating the crate with anger and punishment. The crate is not a prison, it's a dog's best friend. 
  • You have taught your dog to sit on command in a quiet room at home. He always listens to you in that room. You are sure that he is proficient at this command so you decide to take him to the dog park to practice "sit". You let your dog off leash at the dog park and tell him to sit. He ignores you and runs towards another dog. What do you do and why did your dog disobey? There are a couple answers to this. Your dog has been taught to sit in a quiet room and has never practiced in a high distraction setting. He most likely assumes that when you say "sit" in a quiet room he must obey, but when you say "sit" anywhere else it means nothing. This is because the dog has not been proofed. Dogs don't generalize well and must be taught to obey and pay attention to you in all situations. Puppy raisers proof their dogs by taking them in public. At home a dog may seem perfect, but when placed in a stressful situation he may not listen. A dog is only proficient at a command when he listens consistently even when in a distracting setting. Service dogs have to learn that they obey and serve no matter where they are. 
Patience is a key to dog training! Dogs aren't humans and get confused when you are happy one minute and angry the next. In order to get a well behaved companion you need to be consistent, kind, and effective. Using a mix of positive & negative punishment depending on the situation is necessary. Your signals must be clear!

Hope this was interesting, helpful, and enlightening,

Elijah & Dembre

    No comments:

    Post a Comment

    We love hearing from our readers!
    Thanks for stopping by,
    Elijah and Hobart