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.

Shaping Recipes

Many positive trainers are fond of of saying that an animal can be taught to do anything it is physically and mentally capable of doing. Behaviors are often taught through shaping–using successive approximations towards a final goal. (For instance, a trainer could teach a horse to put it’s nose in a trailer, then put two […]

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Going Back to Kindergarten

I’ve been reading Karen Pryor’s first book on training, Lads Before the Wind. Written in the 70s, it’s her personal account of how she learned the principles of operant conditioning and positive reinforcement training by training dolphins in Hawaii. Her park was one of the first to do this, and the book is filled with […]

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Training is a Mechanical Skill

Much of training is an art. However, mechanical skills are a huge part of training and can make the different between a decent trainer and a great trainer. It’s tough to be a great trainer if you’re still struggling with basic mechanics. Holding a lead rope or leash while trying to manage a clicker and […]

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Check Your Verbal Cues

This is part of a series of several posts on cues. I wrote last week a bit about what a cue is and common stimuli that can be used as cues. Often, we try and teach our pets verbal cues. But how well does your dog (or cat, parrot or pony) recognize your verbal cue […]

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What is a cue?

This post is part of a series of several posts on cues. I recently posted about putting cues under stimulus control. (Read that post here.) However, I realize now that perhaps I should have started with a discussion of what exactly constitutes a cue. A cue (sometimes called a discriminative stimulus, or SD) is an […]

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