A primary reinforce is a reinforce related to biological drives such as food or sex. Although sex is a powerful drive, we generally don’t use that as a primary reinforce when training dogs. We do use food in the form of treats as a reward, and that is a powerful primary reinforcer.
Category Archives: Dog Tip of The Day
Usually we feed our dogs at a certain time of day, let them out to relieve themselves at a certain time and take them out to play or for a walk at a certain time. Dogs get used to this as a routine and don’t do well when the routine is changed. No matter how well the dog has been trained, break one of these routines and its behavior changes. Dog behavior can change depending on other conditions too. We should always keep this in mind when the dog is not performing up to our standards. Think about what else might be affecting its behavior that day. Above all, always remember, they are still dogs.
The first textbook on psychology was Principles of Psychology, by Fred Keller and William Schoenfeld. Fred Keller was a friend and colleague of B. F. Skinner and he used an instructional technique known as PSI or personalized System of Instruction. I use this method when I teach my ham radio classes because people progress at different rates, so do animals. I still think it is a good idea to enroll your dog in an obedience class, but the class is not enough. One should work on training the dog throughout it’s life. Stay with it, don’t put unreasonable expectations on the dog and have fun with it.
If you want to reinforce a behavior, you use a condition reinforcer. When a desirable condition takes place and you want to reinforce it, you have to associate it with something pleasant, then it will reinforce the behavior. This is why things like treats, a special toy, petting, making over the dog work for training desirable behaviors. So if you want to sound technical and scientific, the next time you reward good behavior, you can say you are using a condition reinforcer.
Yesterday I was talking about B. F. Skinner and operant conditioning. If you are using a ” “clicker” to train your dogs, you are using operant conditioning. Skinner described the use of a clicker which he called a “cricket” in a paper about how to teach animals. This was back in the 1940’s, so the technique has been around for a while.
B. F. Skinner continued the work on operant conditioning by observing how rats were trained to push a lever for treats. He then expanded this to pigeons. He published a book on Behavior of Organisms and became famous. Treats work!
Yesterday we talked about Edward Lee Throndike, (1874-1939). Anytime you use treats to train dogs, you are using Thorndike’s Law of Effect. Edward Lee Thorndike, put a cat inside of a box with a closed door. He then put some food outside the box and observed how long it took the cat to get out of the box. The food was the reward and it took the cat less and less time to figure out how to get out of the box. Thorndike concluded that the cat was learning because of the reward.