I talk a lot about how animals learn from their consequences; and how, those immediate consequences of their behaviors are what determine the future rate of those behaviors. In scientific terms, this is called operant learning or operant conditioning.
I was out somewhere and I saw it again. A man was in a busy area with his dog doing his best to try and keep his dog’s focus from the external environment, only his attempts were not working too well. His dog continued to pull on leash, and with each pull the man gave the collar a jerk and said, ‘No!’. It was obvious the man was frustrated with his dog.
I was one of more than 500 trainers from across the globe who convened on Dearborn, Michigan in March for the Karen Pryor Clicker Training Expo. It was a phenomenal opportunity to learn from some of the best trainers and behaviorists whose focus is on modifying behavior in the most positive way.
It was to be the second time I was helping a friend solve her dog’s door dashing problem. We were teaching her dog to lay down on a rug several feet from the door, and remain in that position, before we would open it. The ultimate goal: her dog would go to the rug on cue before opening the front door, and remain laying down until released.
Remember, when you are looking for reinforcers to strengthen your pet’s behaviors, you don’t always need food. The opportunity to sniff can also be a valued consequence for walking with a loose leash or sitting by your side. What types of positive reinforcement do you use after your pets wanted behavior to help build value for that choice?