Monday, October 18, 2010

14. How to get Reliability of Behavior

To get an animal to offer behaviors that are reliable and predicable, we need to apply additional learning approaches in combination with OC: 

1.      Ensure our animals are mentally and physically up to the tasks we are asking
2.      Train our animal partners desired behaviors & tasks using OC until they are proficient in the performance of them.
3.      Next train the cues (hand, body, verbal or other such as rein) that trigger the behavior (using Classical Conditioning). Once that happens, the response to a cue almost becomes automatic. You cue whoa, your horse stops.
4.      Because, like us human animals, animal thinking and learning are influenced by emotions and distractions, we also need to teach them to ignore outside influences (distractions) and condition them to handle situations that could trigger fear or other stress reactions (using Systematic Desensitization or Counter Conditioning). For some animals, this is a bigger job than teaching the actual behaviors.

When these four approaches have been addressed, you will have an animal that reliably offers behaviors on cue.

1 comment:

  1. I think of teaching cues as teaching a discrimination. The fancy word for this is putting a behavior under "stimulus control."

    The horse (or other organism) gets reinforced for doing the behavior in the presence of the cue and not reinforced for doing the behavior in the absence of the cue. Behavior is maintained in the presence of the cue and extinguished in the absence of the cue. Very much operant conditioning.