Concepts and Terms RSS feed for this section

In this section, you’ll find articles about important concepts and terms related to the science of animal training and animal behavior. If you’re new to positive animal training, I recommend starting with the articles in my Top Posts section.


B. F. Skinner and Errorless Learning

Happy Birthday, B. F. Skinner! Yesterday, March 20, was Dr. B. F. Skinner’s birthday. In honor of Dr. Skinner’s birthday, I shared the following quote on my Stale Cheerios Instagram account and Facebook page. Skinner writes: “The implication that learning occurs only when errors are made is false.” This quote comes from his 1968 book, […]

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Behavior multiplies (video)

Behavior multiplies. Let me explain what this means.  When you have a well-designed shaping program that is appropriate for your learner, behavior change can happen exponentially.  Imagine you are teaching your horse (or dog or other critter) to walk next to you without a leash or lead rope.  On the first day, you may start […]

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Improve your timing by clarifying your criteria for reinforcement

You’ve just started a training session with your animal learner.  Your animal does several great reps of the behavior you’re teaching. Click and treat! Then, your animal does something you hadn’t anticipated.  The behavior isn’t quite the same as your goal behavior… However, it’s pretty darn close to the behavior you want…  You freeze! Should […]

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Training fundamentals: What is good timing?

Clicker training seems easy. You just click when the desired behavior occurs.  However, it’s important that you click at precisely the right time.  Experienced animal trainers understand the importance of good timing. If your clicks are often too early (or too late), you may accidentally reinforce the wrong behavior.  If your timing is inconsistent, you […]

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Do you really need a clicker?

A clicker can be used as a “conditioned reinforcer.” You may also hear dog trainers, horse trainers, or other animal trainers refer to the clicker as a marker signal, bridging stimulus, or secondary reinforcer. When the animal does the correct behavior, the trainer clicks the clicker and then follows the click with something the animal […]

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