How do we teach behaviors when training animals and how do we associate cues with these behaviors? How does a dog or horse (or cat, goldfish, parrot, roommate, child, employee, etc.) learn a cue for a behavior? What’s the best way to create a solid association between a behavior and a cue, even when distractions […]
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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.
Well established cues are under what is called stimulus control. The stimulus (cue) increases the chance that the behavior will occur because the animal has been reinforced for performing the behavior in the presence of the cue. But what does it really mean for a behavior to be under good stimulus control? Properties of cues […]
We’ve been talking about different forms of negative reinforcement in class. So, I thought this might be a good week to talk about positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement and different types of behavioral responses associated with negative reinforcement. (more…)
Regarding finding valuable reinforcers: “One keeper I met learned that an elephant will perform for a single miniature marshmallow.” This is from Temple Grandin’s latest book, Animals Make Us Human. (I also blogged recently about her discussions on introducing scary objects and stereotypical behaviors.) I find many people object to adding a clicker to their training […]
Stereotypical behaviors (abnormal repetitive behaviors) are commonly seen in animals kept in captivity. Polar bears and other large carnivories are notorious for repetitive pacing type behaviors. Grazing animals kept in unnatural or confined environments often resort to chewing on bars or fences or obsessive licking. Other animals rock back and forth, obsessively groom themselves or engage […]
Targeting is a great way to teach a horse or a dog (or a goldfish!) new skills or tricks. The animal learns to follow a hand, a stick, or any other sort of object where ever the object might lead. (For the horses, I usually use an empty plastic water bottle duct taped on the […]