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.

Do You Have a Clue about Cues?

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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What’s a good reinforcer for an elephant?

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 […]

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Why do animals exhibit stereotypies?

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 […]

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