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Showing posts from June, 2009

Free Shaping in Training Dogs

What is Shaping?
'Shaping' is creating a behavior by reinforcing an animal for incremental steps which eventually 'shape' into the end goal. While it doesn't sound so hard, the catch is this: the entire premise of the method is based on the initiative of the animal; not the trainer. In other words, it's a patience game since you're waiting for the spontaneous actions of the dog.

Timing and consistency are critical in any type of training, but when using free shaping, the trainer's timing needs to be impeccable, since the full extent of the desired behavior probably won't happen right away. More than likely it needs to be built upon in small increments. In fact, you might have to start at a very basic level.

For example, let's say you want to teach your dog to bow. You might be waiting a LONG time before the dog offers that exact behavior, so instead you might have to start by reinforcing the dog when she merely looks at the ground. *click* Once …

Reinforcement & Punishment in Operant Conditioning

In this article I'm discussing reinforcement and punishment as it relates to the training method of operant conditioning. To achieve a dog which willingly wants to work with the trainer, we tend to think only 'positive' methods work the best, but keep in mind when dealing with this type of training positive means the addition of a stimulus; negative stands for the subtraction of a stimulus.
In regards to the tools available in operant conditioning, there can be a total of four contexts:Positive Reinforcement is the addition of a favorable stimulus after a desired behavior has occurred. E.g., a treat or toy is presented for good behavior.
Negative Reinforcement is the subtraction of an undesirable stimulus after desired behavior has occurred. E.g., a dog on leash acts calmly - or displays some other form of obedience - and the owner takes the leash off. A leash itself is a negative reinforcer since it keeps the dog from moving freely where he wants to go.
Positive Punishment i…