Ok, so I was feeling uninspired and disappointed by the underwhelming response to my last blog post. Let’s face it, despite my love of humor and good times, my writing skills demonstrate a decided lack of such leading me to ruminate on whether I should bother to blog again. Dare I bore the public with my pontifications on training and behavior in my lackluster, humorless writing style? Maybe I’m just rusty and need to push myself, get in a “groove”, exercise my cerebral cortex and then maybe I will improve. Then again, maybe not.
I enviously read many blogs and articles and dream of being able to coin a phrase, turn a word and cleverly make my point as do so many others. I live in a great time when anyone with a two-bit opinion and a computer can have her voice heard. Ah, but SHOULD that voice be heard? And would anyone read far enough into this mind-numbing droning of words to get to my point? Alas, I suspect not, so why bother?
Suddenly, INSPIRATION! Amazing that is was in the form of a pint-sized entity whose name sounds like a wound acquired while raiding a beehive for its golden nectar. Yes, I suspect you know of what I speak and imagine my surprise to learn of the existence of this heretofore unknown entity of which I was blissfully unaware. Having heard the name this morning and, being as curious as a
While I vehemently resist the idea that I need to "redneck-cognize", I do realize this diminutive blonde and all that goes with her is probably found to be far more entertaining than
little big, old me, but I vow to make a better effort in the
future. With that, on to the post (no,
the former is NOT the post and, no, I will not be discussing reality tv and its
assorted “stars”. If you thought that’s where
I was going, you may want to leave now)
In my last post, “Are You Really a “Positive”Trainer?”, I was discussing the Humane Hierarchy and several times mentioned “more on that later”. Here is one of those “laters”...
Steps 5 and 6 on the Humane Hierarchy
5. Negative Punishment, Extinction and Negative ReinforcementYes, despite the fact that these three things are different, they are “lumped” together on the Humane Hierarchy…
a. Negative Punishment – Sounds really bad, right? Well, not as bad as one might think and certainly better than Negative Reinforcement, IMO. When using NP, the trainer contingently withdraws a positive reinforcer to reduce the probability that the problem behavior will occur. NP creates stress thru disappointment but is more humane than introducing an aversive. Many “positive” trainers use NP in conjunction with PR. I’m sure you’ve heard it before with the jumping puppy – turn your back. That’s an example of NP because, in theory, you are removing the reinforcer (your attention) for jumping by turning your back to the puppy. Lol – how well does that really work? Not well at all.
b. Extinction ‐ No, we’re not talking about dinosaurs but I’m very happy when some behaviors go the way of the dinosaur. When using extinction, the trainer permanently removes the maintaining reinforcer to suppress the behavior or reduce it to baseline levels. This is very stressful for the dog as triggers are still present and the dog is repeatedly subjected to its trigger in the absence of alternative behaviors or distractions or even the information that can be learned from negative punishment, leaving the dog little or no way to “cope” with the trigger. A good example of this is doorbell desensitization for dogs that “go crazy” when the doorbell rings. Why? Because the doorbell signals visitors and that’s the reinforcer. Ring the doorbell all day long and never answer the door and eventually the dog gives up on the behavior because the reinforce is no longer there at all. Of course, it doesn’t take much for the dog to reacquire the behavior once you again begin to answer the door.
c. Negative Reinforcement ‐ When using negative reinforcement, the trainer contingently withdraws an aversive antecedent stimulus to increase the probability that the right behavior will occur. NR is very stressful/invasive for the dog as it first requires the introduction of an aversive. A choke chain supposedly operates using NR and, yes, it does but only AFTER the positive punishment. A pulling dog is punished by the choke chain tightening around his neck. If the dog stops pulling, his “nice walking” is reinforced by the relief of pressure from the choke chain.
6. Positive Punishment – the LAST Resort when ALL other Options have FailedPositive? - sounds better than it is. Positive within this context does not mean good – it means to add something.
With PP, the trainer contingently delivers an aversive consequence to reduce the probability that the problem behavior will occur. Positive punishment is determined by the dog. What one dog may find punishing, another may find fun. Introducing an aversive to decrease/suppress a behavior is extremely invasive and stressful to the dog and, very often, downright INhumane. I don’t believe there is ever any need to use physical pain of any kind. I don’t believe in nor have I ever found the need for choke, prong or shock collars, physical force or intimidation. Don’t get me wrong, there may be a time and a place for the proper use of PP. Yes, I am committed to positive training but I refuse to become one of the many “humaniacs” that rewards-based training seems to have created. Don’t get me started on the whole NRM debate! Hmmm… now THAT’s a post for another day, for sure!
I believe in respecting and humanely educating my beloved pets. I hope to increase awareness among pet-owners and help them achieve a bond with their pets based on mutual respect, trust and affection. In so doing, I…
Train withOUT Pain!